Tag Archives: Dancing Nude in the Moonlight

Antigua and Barbuda Literary Works Reviewed XII

This picks up where the previous installments of Antigua and Barbuda Literary Works Reviewed pages left off (use the search feature to the right to dig them up). As with those earlier pages, it features reviews about A & B writings that I come across as I dig through my archives or surf the web. You’re welcome to send any credible/professional reviews that you come across as well. They’re not in any particular order, I just add them as I add them; some will be old, some will be new. It’s all shared in an effort to underscore, emphasize, and insist on Antigua and Barbuda’s presence in the Caribbean literary canon.

“fascinating story” – on Man of Her Dreams in In the Black: New African Canadian Literature reviewed in Canada’s Herald Arts and Life

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“Antiguan and Barbudan writer Joanne C. Hillhouse imbues her Mondays are Murder yarn with domesticity-not the fuzzy, familial kind, but the ominous underbelly of fraught marital disharmony.” – Sunday Arts, Trinidad, re The Cat has Claws short story from Akashic’s Mondays are Murder series

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Round up of some Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean which includes ‘Amelia at Devil’s Bridge’ by Joanne C. Hillhouse of Antigua and Barbuda: “…wonderful anthology of fresh voices from the Caribbean . . . includes writers from Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago” (Booklist) … “Strong contributions from Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, and Barbados make the collection a regionally consistent showing in nascent talent…” (Caribbean Beat) … “This story felt so light and read so smoothly. Hillhouse captured nuance in such a beautiful way. … It’s a layered, mysterious tale that explores Amelia’s family life.” (African Book Addict) … “At their best, the writers use their imagery not only to illuminate the experiences of their characters but also to share specific details about their worlds. So, for example, we read in Ivory Kelly’s ‘This Thing We Call Love’ of conversations that ‘were like boil-up, with plantains and cassava and other kinds of ground food and salted meat thrown into a pot of water, in no particular order, and boiled until the pot is a steaming, bubbling, savoury cuisine’, or in Joanne C. Hillhouse’s own ‘Amelia at Devil’s Bridge’ about rocks that ‘are sharper than a coconut vendor’s cutlass’.” (A Year of Reading the World) … “Readers will enjoy the characters’ interesting awareness of dialect and ways the writers use their Antillean setting.  …One character [Amelia in Amelia at Devil’s Bridge] laments how completely a father can disappear on a small island.” (La Bloga) … “I also liked Amelia at Devil’s Bridge and The Monkey Trap.” (andrewhideo.com) … “A few of my favorites are REVERSAL OF FORTUNES” by Kevin Baldeosingh (Trinidad & Tobago) …ALL THE SECRET THINGS NO-ONE EVER KNOWS” by Sharon Leach (Jamaica) …AMELIA” by Joanne C. Hillhouse (Antigua & Barbuda) …FATHER, FATHER” by Garfield Ellis (Jamaica) …Pepperpot is an eclectic mix of adventure, humor, the spirit world, family relationships, and other subject matters …I recommend this collection of short stories to readers who enjoy a mixture of subject matter in a single sitting.” (Ski-wee’s Book Corner)

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Describing this book as a post-colonial, feminist novel examining the immigrant experience in North America – a valid description! – might easily make the novel sound both heavy and off-putting. Instead, it is a beautifully constructed, intensely readable account of an girl on the brink of adulthood interrogating her assumptions about the world and, importantly, the assumptions of those around her. – Imogen Gladman, UK editor, on Jamaica Kincaid’s Lucy.

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Dancing Nude in the Moonlight is a story of love between cultures. It goes in depth into the hardships and tensions of immigrant life in Antigua…The writer of this novel, Joanne C. Hillhouse, clearly wrote this novel for readers of romance. Not only that, but she seeks to evoke the themes of racism and love in this novel. Love is slowly nurtured between a single mother and an aimless ‘has been’ Antiguan cricketer who turns out to have an unexpected talent for sports commentary… When the Antiguan Michael meets Selena it is love at first sight for him, but Selena has been too deeply hurt by misplaced love in the past and Michael must take his time to ‘woo’ her with much understanding.” – Convent High School, Dominica, 2009 

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“Upon reading the first page of Hillhouse’s second novel, I rolled my eyes so hard they almost fell to the back of my head like dice. I continued, though, because someone I respect had read the book and had good things to say about it. What I discovered was an honest tale about Selena and Michael, two imperfect people who try to love each other as best as they can, while battling all kinds of odds…The novel shows that self-knowledge and self-love need to be alive and well in two people before they decide to build a life together. What happens in the moonlight may not survive the heat of the noonday sun. These are hard lessons for the characters but they’re worth learning because of the stakes involved. In this regard, the question in Dancing Nude in the Moonlight isn’t ‘Can love win?’ Instead, it’s more like ‘How can love win against great odds?’ Hillhouse’s answer satisfied me.” – @ Love in the Time of Cricket by Nadine Tomlinson, 2018

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“I am usually not a big fan of romance novels, but Joanne Hillhouse’s novels also engage the reader in the island’s socio-political history. As a result, we come away with knowledge that is reflective of the larger Caribbean story. I have lived away from the Caribbean for many decades and reading her novels take me home. I learn a little more about who I am. This novel, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, though fiction, touches on our realities and personal histories. It is the story of broken relationships seeking a path to healing. It is the story of people trying to make themselves whole again. We should bare our souls in order to reveal who we are. We should ‘dance more often in the moonlight.’” – Althea Romeo-Mark, author of The Nakedness of New

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“It was refreshing…the characters were genuine and easy to identify with.” – Daily Observer, 2004, re Dancing Nude in the Moonlight

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Dancing Nude in the Moonlight creates so much depth for its characters that all subplots work together, producing a fantastic fusion of lives that are indeed real. At no time do we get the feeling that ‘this can’t possibly happen’. We can relate to the situations as either clips of our lives, or the lives of people we’ve known or have seen. Turning the last page is almost like saying a final farewell to friends who you won’t see again, but will miss terribly. The emotions of the characters, their ups, their downs, their responses to their situations are so real, you read on because you’re genuinely concerned, you want to know what will happen…For me, personally, it falls into the league of Zee Edgell, Merle Hodge, V. S. Reid, Samuel Selvon and the like, whose novels have found a place on the West Indian category of the English B (Literature) CXC syllabus.” – Antigua Sun, 2008

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“…a snapshot of what social interaction is/was like in Antigua and Barbuda during a specific period of time. Through the pages of Dancing Nude in the Moonlight future generations will find not just a love story, but a love story that represents one aspect of the nation’s evolution into a multicultural society.” – Antigua Sun, 2008

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“Likewise, Joanne C. Hillhouse’s 2003 Dancing Nude in the Moonlight and Jamaica Kincaid’s 1997 My Brother leave me awestruck on every re-read by evidence of the crucial role postcolonial literary producers play in setting the agenda for the still fledgling fields of Caribbean gender and sexuality theory. Hillhouse’s and Kincaid’s deconstruction of Antiguan patriarchy not only destabilizes past bad-minded scholarship on family and gender relations in the region. They also offer caution to future scholarship on Caribbean gender and sexuality. The texts assert the necessity of grounding Afro-Antiguan/Caribbean masculinities within the appropriate historical and social sites/matrices. This, they suggest, will produce non-bad-minded accounts of Antiguan and Caribbean expressions of masculinity. Moreover, Kincaid’s My Brother conducts an important probing of the compulsory heterosexuality underpinning Antiguan patriarchy. It also intervenes into the silence around HIV-AIDS and the experiences of men/those living with the disease in the region.” – from Discretely Antiguan and Distinctly Caribbean by Dr. Hazra Medica, in the Tongues of the Ocean Antigua and Barbuda issue

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In 2020, Kirkus Reviews gave Joanne C. Hillhouse’s Musical Youth a starred review and named it to its top 100 Indie books of the year, and to its lists of top Indie romances. and top Indie teen/young adult novels. As such, it is featured in the year end issue of the critical magazine.

“A charming and edifying work with a romance that will make YA fans swoon.”

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Moonlight Festival Pics…and the musings they stirred

Considering Venus author D Gisele Isaac speaking at the Moonlight Street Fair.

Shakeema ‘Star’ Edwards in 2008 reading her winning piece from the Dancing Nude in the Moonlight next chapter contest.

This moonlight post has been in draft phase for a while as I wanted to upload all the pictures at once. All that happens is I keep forgetting it. So, here they are, will add the other pictures when I bump into them.

Bumping into this too-long-in-draft-post however has me thinking of what a wonderful night this was – It was 2008 and the Best of Books and Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival had teamed up to celebrate my book Dancing Nude in the Moonlight. Totally unprompted and unprovoked, just as a way of celebrating a local author while simultaneously generating sales and promoting the literary festival.  The street was blocked off, tents set up, there was a special Moonlight drink, readings, discussion. Reflecting on that night, tonight, especially on the heels of another great book event, this one the Oh Gad! televised book chat (in 2012), I’m feeling pretty blessed.  And not just because in 2008, I didn’t even have a publisher for Oh Gad! or an agent for that matter and was preparing to attempt a final draft. But because of the people without whom these celebrations would never have happened; from the readers to the people who help pull it all off behind the scenes. I woke up this morning and all the problems that had been there a day before, all the set backs, were still there like hurdles in my path; but I felt in leaping mode like I could conquer them, like even if I slipped and took a tumble, I would not be undone. Now, I know I can’t sustain this high. But today I felt lucky and blessed and joyful, and I hugged these rare feelings and didn’t want to let them go. Because in spite of everything, and it’s a whole bunch of everything you really don’t want to hear about, good things happen. Sometimes people say yes, sometimes they show up for you, sometimes they go the extra mile, sometimes they wish you well, sometimes it’s not even the people you expect, sometimes life doesn’t come with a quid pro quo and money above all proviso; and at some time, you’ll get the opportunity to be as generous to someone, paying it back ward or forward or sideways and hopefully embrace that opportunity. That’s the kind of feeling I felt for most of the day. And even if tomorrow is a huge fail, and everything I’ve worked to build crumbles, and the things I’m reaching toward slip away, how nice it was to have these evenings (the Moonlight Street Fair to the televised book club chat, and other activities in between), laughing, and sharing, sipping wine, and just being…in the moment with people who choose to be in the moment with you, to support you in the moment…just because. On reflection, even thank you is inadequate in such moments.

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DANCING

Dancing Nude in the Moonlight was my second book of fiction. Published by Macmillan, it came out in 2003 (I believe) with a book reading and signing (

that’s a youthful looking Youth Minister Winston Williams, fresh to the post 🙂

this pic suggests it might have been around 2004), hosted by the Best of Books shortly thereafter. I have to say thanks to the Best of Books for putting it together (and for hosting a Moonlight Street Festival with plenty dancing             and samples of a drink called, I believe, Moonlight Samba,  in the book’s honour a few years on in 2008) because I didn’t know what the hell I was doing and I was nervous in a just-want-it-to-be-over kind of way (still not comfortable with the promotion side of this writing life). But it was a blessed day in that I was living a side of my dream many writers never get the opportunity to (not the rolling in money side, mind, but the seeing your words in print, reading those words in front of an audience (though I don’t remember what I read) and having people come up to you and tell you how much the book meant to them kind of way…and, honestly, that’s worth more than money to me). My family (sans my mom who never comes to these things) was there and my friends – and that meant a lot. In some ways, it was a more innocent time for me, so much has changed since then; so I look back at these pictures fondly and with a nervous rumbling in my stomach (or is that just gas?) as I prepare for the 2012 launch of my next book, Oh Gad!

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