Autumn Sea by Toke Hoppenbrouwers

cover of the book Autumn SeaAutumn Sea by Toke Hoppenbrouwers
Genre: Award Winner; Black Interest; Fiction
Copyright Year: 1996
Published: 1996
Publisher: Astarte Shell Press
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Format: Trade Paperback
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No. of Pages: 144
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ISBN: 9781885349040
Award(s): Small Press Award Winner 1997
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Review Autumn Sea is a literate and passionate novel that, in its most simplistic terms, deals with women loving women, and the pain and re-birth that occurs when powerful relationships are terminated. The nameless narrator is a white woman from the Netherlands (much like author Hoppenbrouwers) whose five-year love affair with Lesly, a strong and complex African American woman, has come to a painful end. As their relationship is explored through a series of flashbacks, we learn about the narrator’s life in Netherlands during W. W. II, her former partner Ene, and the lovers’ journeys across the Near East and Europe as they face internal struggles with self-awareness, empowerment and forgiveness. By the time the story concludes, our narrator is a frail, but wizened elderly woman, and we realize that the tale has indeed been an epic one. Hoppenbrouwers, a Ph. D. in real life who has studied Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in the United States since 1972, writes with a fascinating mix of clinical detachment and poetry that gives her narrator a unique and compelling voice. An example: ‘I’m sitting in my grandfather chair, a regal piece of furniture, covered with pink damask. It could be a prop in one of Chekhov’s plays. I feel self-possessed in it, as if the pieces of my life were firmly in place. Now I feel a dryness in my mouth without an urge to drink. My heaving sobs have left my body feeling desiccated. ‘ Though some will be drawn to the clarity in the portrayal of this inter-racial, same-sex love affair, the power of the book is most clearly conveyed through the break-up of the two lovers. Hoppenbrouwers doesn’t take a false step as she lays out the pain and sadness that comes with realizing that accepting another person is often a greater challenge than loving them. Autumn Sea is a haunting and dense story with finely crafted characters. — From Independent Publisher Autumn Sea is the engaging love story of a white woman from the Netherlands residing in America, and her African-American lover. With an unusual flair for expressive writing and its multilayered development of character and story line, Toke Hoppenbrouwers’s Autumn Sea is one of the best of the new small press novels. Toke Hoppenbrouwers is an author to watch for! — Midwest Book Review
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