The Seeds of Green Mangoes
by Janete Scobie
Date of Publication: December 2008
On the fictional island of St. Dominique, the story of the enchanting Creola Philogène begins, the last of a line of broken, bitter women betrayed by fathers, husbands, and lovers. Growing up in a small village, under the tutelage of a controlling grandmother, Creola dreams of a life beyond her tiny village and finding the father she has never known, a faceless figure that lives in France. More immediately, she dreams of experiencing that greatest taboo: sensual love. She meets a virile young painter for whom she seethes with desire, but fears her grandmother’s warnings – that yearning for the evil between her legs will only lead to utter destruction. However, desire and need speak louder than fear, and Creola soon makes a choice, one that has tragic consequences. Now free to follow her dreams, she leaves her island and embarks on a new adventure, but, again, fear takes over when she finds herself in a surging throng of humanity. Creola crosses paths with an older man who repulses her sexually, but attracts her with his air of strength. Believing he will be a likely protector, she marries him and travels to New York. The city is a raging beast, but Creola finds it far easier to deal with than her husband, who turns out to have a violent and brooding nature, harboring secrets of his own. She bitterly realizes that she is once more in a cage, one of her own making. This time, her freedom will not be given to her; she will have to fight for it. That freedom, she soon discovers, is not enough. To maintain it, she must achieve independence.
Woven with lyrical prose that sings Creola’s moving tale and breathes life into each character, this powerful story reminds us of the struggles of self-discovery as well as the trials and tribulations of journeying into womanhood despite the emotional hardships and taboos we carry with us from childhood.