The Roux in the Gumbo is emotional and inspirational, telling the story of a Louisana family spanning the generations from the era of slavery to the present day. You will read of the romances, challenges and adventures they experience as their lives are intertwined by one common goal – basic survival during the reconstruction era in Louisiana.
5.0 out of 5 stars A VIVID FAMILY HISTORY
I won a copy of this book, so I read it. What a wonderful surprise I received, although harrowing in parts, it is a moving story of bravery and survival down the generations to the present time, when the author wrote the history of her family.
The book started with a recipe for Gumbo, a popular Louisiana soup dish, which was a nice touch.
It opens in the 1870's with Gizelle, a runaway slave who has been shockingly abused by her owner, being rescued by a woman called Tallulah. Gizelle's story really starts in 1850. As a baby she was sold to Sunrise Plantation and cruelly treated. At 4 years of age she was forced to pick cotton in the field, and at 6 years old the overseer sexually abused her. At 12 years old when saved by Tallulah, she is already pregnant by the overseer.
Not that the overseer was the only evil creature in this story, the plantation owners and their offspring were equally as bad. Apart from whipping and forcing their slaves to work in shocking conditions, they also raped the female slaves, and in fact took delight in breeding from them, so that they could sell the offspring for high prices.
I won't go into details because I don't wish to spoil the story. The shocking treatment of slaves by the plantation owners, voodoo, the Civil War, the Klu Klux Klan, Prohibition, all are prominent in this book as each generation has their own story to tell. Some of the family members, particularly in the later generations lived outside the law, but the majority were decent people who were victims of the era in which they lived, and yet against such adversity they survived.
I would highly recommend this book. The writer has done an amazing job to document her family history in such a manner.
5.0 out of 5 stars Kim Robinson creates from a family recipe for gumbo
Kim Robinson creates from a family recipe for gumbo a plot that spans almost a century. She details intimately a family, most time bound by blood and often time by circumstance, sheer determination of survival and making one's own way in spite of obstacles. The reader is caught up in this multi-generational page-turner. You'll find yourself crying with and ultimately celebrating the heroes and heroines of the Roux in the Gumbo.
This One Has It All!
“The Roux in the Gumbo” is author, Kim Robinson’s presentation of the maternal side of her family tree. The saga begins in slavery times and like most slave narratives, it showcases the hard life of the slaves - long hours of spirit-breaking work, rape by the master, abuse by the mistress, little freedom and even littler bouts of love. But always present in the background is the never-die courage of the slaves and their never-die quest to live free. Robinson’s ancestors achieve this, their freedom, by employing their smarts and activating courage. Through their long held use and knowledge of voodoo and natural healing, they gain their freedom and eventually rise to a level of success that puts them shoulder to shoulder with white men. In only a few generations, they acquire land, houses, businesses, money, and most importantly, respect and love.
Unfortunately, with success comes enemies in all colors. Enter the swindlers, the racists, the liars and cheats. And even within the family, there arises the weak-willed, the unfocused, and those who do not appreciate the barriers the early ancestors had to bust through. And yet, the family continues to grow in love and in numbers, and over time the very traits that helped them achieve foster a different type of success. That being, loyalty to family as seen during times of wrongdoing; economic downturn; and health decline, death.
As stated earlier, having an entrepreneurial bent clearly elevated the family, but other traits that passed through the family line also had a hand. Traits such as a hard work ethic, fairness and accountability, creative problem-solving, commitment, but most plainly, love; a very strong and deep love for one another.
I could not begin in this short review to detail all the colorful vignettes and stories in this tome. It is a long read, stocked full of strong, interesting characters; rich subtleties; and even original poems. Should you worry about keeping track of the major characters? Don’t. The author includes a family tree, family photos (which I enjoyed viewing), and chapter headings that match the name of the family member who is featured in that chapter.
Just a brief word of warning though. The last third of the book is narrative and reads more like a book report than active storytelling. When I arrived at this point, I encountered holes and questions, which led me to the realization that the contemporary generations were not as delineated as the ancient ones. But by this time, I was so invested in the family, this snafu did not deter me reading to the very end.
If you enjoyed “Roots” or “Cane River,” you will enjoy this multi-generational family saga. Read it and be awed