The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. Finished 9-28-17, rating 5/5, classic, 246 pages, pub. 1971
“This is a novel in the guise of the tape-recorded recollections of a black woman who has lived 110 years, who has been both a slave and a witness to the black militancy of the 1960’s. In this woman Ernest Gaines has created a legendary figure, a woman equipped to stand beside William Faulkner’s Dilsey in The Sound and the Fury.” Miss Jane Pittman, like Dilsey, has ‘endured,’ has seen almost everything and foretold the rest. Gaines’ novel brings to mind other great works The Odyssey for the way his heroine’s travels manage to summarize the American history of her race, and Huckleberry Finn for the clarity of her voice, for her rare capacity to sort through the mess of years and things to find the one true story in it all.” — Geoffrey Wolff, Newsweek.
I wish I had taken the time to write this soon after I read it in September because although I absolutely loved this book some of the details now allude me. I loved Jane. She is a true survivor. This book, spanning her 110 year life really comes full circle in the end and I would have been happy to spend another 110 with Jane.
Jane was a little girl of 10 or 11 when Lincoln freed the slaves and she left her plantation with a small group hoping to walk their way north from Louisiana. When something bad happens Jane is left in charge of 3 year old Ned and she must rely on her wits to keep them safe and free. She eventually come to raise him like he was her own son and find both happiness and heartache, never leaving her beloved Louisiana.
Jane is a warrior, a realist, and a trailblazer. This story, which spans the time between slavery and the beginning of the civil rights movement told the story with real events and people framing Jane’s experiences. This is one worth reading.
This was my 18th selection for the Classics Club and I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50. I am woefully behind!