As background for my own work-in-progress, I decided to listen to Dori Sanders' second novel, Her Own Place. I was looking for a greater understanding of what life was like for rural African American women in the second half of the 20th century and I was not disappointed. Sanders, who is well known for her first novel Clover, grew up in Filbert, SC, a tiny community in York County, near Rock Hill, SC and not far from Charlotte, NC. Since her family operates one of the oldest African-American farms in the region, (her father, a former sharecropper, bought the land around 1915) she is well-equipped with stories. I enjoyed listening to the book but was distracted by the author going in and out of different character's point of views. Now that I'm thinking of writing a novel, I think about things like that!
It seemed to me that one of Sanders' goals was to show the changes that occurred in South Carolina from about 1930-1990. As a result, there are some stories which are told in greater depth than others. Although the reader hears the protagonist's (Mae Lee Barnes) struggles throughout her life, I felt an emotional detachment from Mae Lee and would have preferred to have been more hooked into such obviously difficult events like raising her five children without her husband's support. The span of years that is covered, the lack of transition between events, and my lack of emotional involvement as a reader, makes the book read more like a memoir than a novel. As such, it was interesting to me and would be worthy of reading for others interested in this time and place in American history.
Her Own Place, African American women, Dori Sanders, Rock Hill, SC, Clover