A Taste of Eternity
by Gisèle Pineau, translated by C. Dickson
Available from Texas Tech University Press
When Sybille arrives in Paris from Guadeloupe with her infant son, she encounters the extravagant and marvelous Lila. Sybille is young and black with her life still ahead of her; an ex-actress, Lila is white and seventy years old. Despite their differences, the women become inseparable.
Haunted by memories, Lila confides in Sybille and, among other things, relates the endless cycle of lovers in her life. Her most cherished memories are of Henry, a black man from the British Caribbean whom she met during the Liberation Day celebrations in Paris. Gradually, Sybille and Lila discover that the West Indies and the charm of Guadeloupe create a deep and common bond between them.
The narrative leaps from one side of the Atlantic to the other, playing black against white, past against present, rural Caribbean culture against the urban life of Paris and New York. Sybille’s memories of her own tragic childhood form a counterpoint to tales of Henry growing up on the island of St. John. The stories contain mysterious and magical elements revolving around one central theme: how fate works to draw lovers apart.
Despite repeated defeats, love still survives. In tales and in legends, mocking all obstacles, it circumvents the game of destiny and the tragic vanity of mankind.
Gisèle Pineau is a French novelist, writer, and former psychiatric nurse. Although born in Paris, her origins are Guadeloupean and she has written several books on the difficulties and torments of her childhood as a black person growing up in Parisian society. She now divides her time between France and Guadeloupe.