She also used the same methodology that her grandmother used when it came to schooling her own children. Gilroy homeschooled her son and daughter with the same focus on freedom that her grandmother had for her. Between and she attended the University of London , pursuing a Diploma in Child Development. She later left Guiana and went to attend the University of London. Gilroy assumed since she was a qualified teacher, and respected teacher from Guiana she believed she would not have a problem looking for a teaching job in London. However, during this time in the early s racism was still strongly prevalent.

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Start your review of Frangipani House Write a review Shelves: summer-of-women 4. I had been meaning to read Beryl Gilroy for some time and this was the impetus I needed. Gilroy was a Guyanese author with an interesting background. Qualifying as a teacher and moving to Britain in the s she was initially unable to get a job as a teacher because of racism. Eventually following a series of unskilled jobs she returned to teaching in the s and became the first 4.

Eventually following a series of unskilled jobs she returned to teaching in the s and became the first black head teacher in London. She did a good deal of work in the area of education in the days of the Greater London Council GLC ; developing a psychotherapy practice principally for black women and children.

She also founded the Camden Black Sisters Group. It is easy to forget how much good the GLC did until Thatcher abolished it. Gilroy turned to writing quite late and this, her first novel was published in ; she addressed family issues the treatment of elders being particularly important to her and went on to write about the African and Caribbean diaspora and the experience of slavery. Frangipani House is a home for older people in Guyana.

Mama King has been placed there by her family, who now live in America. Mama King does not like the home and finds it oppressive. The concept of house and home is very important in Caribbean literature, often representing cultural identity. Home as a space is used in a variety of ways, but here it is a space of confinement for the old. It is often only home for a short space of time before death and a number of strong and well-drawn characters move briefly through its pages.

After working hard all her life Mama King finds the rules and restrictions stultifying and plans to escape; firstly through losing her sanity and then by physical departure. Mama King escapes and spends time with a group of beggars, who although very poor treat her as an equal and appreciate her. Eventually she is beaten up and is in intensive care. Her family travel from America and have to decide what to do with her. The main antagonist of the novel is the matron of the nursing home, Miss Trask.

Although she comes across as unsympathetic and uncaring, the reader does come to understand her over the course of the novel.

Gilroy gives a voice to the voiceless; the old and poor and uneducated. Although Mama King is uneducated in a Western sense, she has knowledge, alternative knowledge and has brought up many children and survived an abusive husband. This novel finds a place for someone who society has no place, a role for a black, poor grandmother. The care home is supposed to be a haven, but is not; it is a place of memories, partly because the boring routine ensures people are drawn into the past and recollection.

The real heart of the novel is the wonderful character of Mama King, who tells us her story. The ending is left a little open, which is good. It is really a novella, so do try it.


Frangipani House



Beryl Gilroy






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