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Mont Plaisant En 1931 Sara neuf ans est arrachée à sa mère et offerte au sultan Njoya dont elle doit rejoindre les 681 femmes au Mont Plaisant à Yaoundé où Njoya a été exilé par l'occupant français Mais à la suite de circonstances imprévues la matrone ui prépare Sara décide de la travestir en garçon¿ désormais elle va vivre à la cour sous le nom de Nebu tandis u'au dehors les nations se préparent à la Seconde Guerre mondiale Soixante dix ans plus tard c'est à Bertha une jeune Camerounaise étudiant aux États Unis et revenue au pays ue Sara va raconter son histoire peuplée d'incroyables personnages Au premier rang desuels le sultan Njoya lui même homme curieux des sciences inventeur d'un alphabet entouré d'une colonie d'artistes et ui s'évertue à faire prospérer la culture raffinée de son peuple On croise aussi Joseph Ngono ancien professeur à l'université de Berlin ui a décidé de rentrer au Cameroun où sa déception est cruelle Joseph ui est aussi le père de Sara Mont Plaisant est un roman ambitieux magistralement construit sur l'amour le pouvoir les ravages du colonialisme et des guerres la beauté de la civilisation bamoum la vitalité de son art et la tragédie de son déclin De façon enjouée impeccable et grave une émouvante fresue du Cameroun d'avant la présence française Eugène Ebodé Le Mag Mont Plaisant fournit un éclairage brillant sur une période charnière de l'histoire du Cameroun Fabien Mollon Jeune Afriue Prix des cin continents de la Francophonie 2011 Mention spéciale du jury A curious book but so I'm scratching my head over it  It's an as told to book and the levels of who is telling what becomes murky because the perspective changes And then some of the stories seem like side stories or background stories  Overall it's meandering as well as disorganized  I can't recommend thisA few uotesOf course Sara would also hear the gruff voice of Njoya calling for her from the depths of his deathbed calling for her much to the stupefaction of the six hundred and eighty royal wives Oh Sara would hear all of these voices spreading out endlessly over the green hills of the part of the town known as Nsimeyong; she would hear these cries these calls these shouts these songs of destiny For her story is in truth a song; a song so poignant and so profound that it can find its echo only in the silence of the father who on the day of her departure was himself absent All her life Sara would search for the voice of this father all her life long The solid voice of this unknown father she would catch hints of even in the echo of dogs barking impatiently or in the nocturnal yowling of catsMy body is an archive retorted the doyenne It remembers stories that I don't knowHe realized all too late that he had opened up his mind to take in the breadth of the world only to come back to a country held captive by colonial mentalities; that he had left the streets of Berlin fleeing from the threat of Adolf and other scoundrels of his ilk only to come back to a camp There are books that are inevitably going to be polarizing to their readers not for their content but rather for their style Mount Pleasant is one such book complicated by the fact that it is about a time and place colonial era Cameroon not familiar to most Western readers Therefore it takes effort than most modern consumers of fiction are used to expending on trying to comprehend and appreciate the novels they read but I for one am glad that I did Mount Pleasant is a metaphorical novel with layers impossible to count; which layers are inside which – not to mention what elements are the metaphors versus the actual root truths – are purposely indecipherable On the surface is a story about a young Cameroonian girl Sara kidnapped as a tribute to the sultan at an early age who unwittingly winds up standing in as the pseudo reincarnation of a passionate artist ripped too soon from his devoted mother his adoring community and the aforementioned sultan whose service he was in It is also the story many others in particular of two Berthas – one the caregiver of young Sara and the devastated mother of Nebu the dead artist in whose image she remakes Sara and the other a modern day American historian of Cameroonian origin who nearly accidentally meets the 100 year old Sara in the present day Bertha the American one has so many uestions to ask of Sara so much she wants to learn about the colonial days of Cameroon specifically regarding Mount Pleasant the palacecommunity in exile of the wise and kind yet pacifistic sultan trying desperately to fit his people into the rapidly changing political landscape that was Cameroon in between the two world wars where no fewer than three European powers were in turn its overseers Yet Bertha also has access to information Sara craves – the truth behind her father who was gone from her life when she was very small and his role in historical events as well as his true disposition and honor And I think this is where and why the book loses people Sara and Bertha's meetings are narrated by Bertha not in a well organized and structured way for easy digestion for us the readers but in actual linear time the way it would have happened replete with non seuiturs tangents gaps of memory emotional shutdowns interruptions by eavesdropping bystanders and Bertha's own internal reflections This is the most overarching of the books metaphors memory is imperfect especially if you are 100 years old; it meanders it fills in some gaps inaccurately it flows in fits and starts it fixates on some details and ignores others it is bound inextricably to emotions it is repetitive it jumps around in time So at its heart Mount Pleasant is about memory – Sara's the Bertha of yore's Nebu's the sultan's – and what can be gleaned from it by those doing the recounting as well as contemporaryAmerican Bertha the youths listening in modern Cameroon us the readers and the world at large This is indeed a challenging book in which to follow events of the story but you will be rewarded by absolutely magical lyrical writing – sparkling poetic prose with uotes worth remembering on nearly every page You'll also learn not just facts but also the flavors of Cameroonian history skillfully evoked through detailed description dialogue and storytelling The ending – or rather I should say endings since there are so many individual threads that make up the fabric of this book – are dramatic exciting surprising and in just the right places sublimely delightful It's not a book for all types of readers but if you are not averse to investing some effort and patience into an unusual novel you will find Mount Pleasant a profound treat I received a copy of this book courtesy of Goodreads Giveaways DNF at about 40% The plot device wherein we hear the main character's story through a narrative being told to another person in this case the first person narrator of the book does not work in print It just doesn't In movies it can be an appropriate plot device because the filmmaker can actually transport you rather than having you watch one person tell another person a story Titanic is the best example I can think of at the moment it's Rose's story which she is narrating to another person but we don't see her narrating we simply see her story acted out In Mount Pleasant and in every other novel I can think of where this plot device is used it doesn't work that way The flow is awkward and clunky the dialogue is flat the characters are flat the story doesn't come alive And ultimately it's unnecessary Why use that plot device Why not just cut out the middle man and either have the main character tell us the story herself in first person or simply narrate the storyThere were additional problems with this novel that kept me from being able to finish Most of what I did read barely even touched on the main character's story at all If the reader had been given the story promised by the blurb then I at least might have been able to suffer through the poor narrative plot device However so many pages were dedicated to the narrator telling us how interesting the MC's story was and how much she had to tell and how many things she had witnessed and how many important people she met These types of phrases were used repeatedly without ever really telling us anything about her life or her story It was like listening to a Trump speech I have a plan and it's the best plan you've ever heard of before Yes but what is it Just trust me it's an amazing plan and you will be so happy about this plan You get the idea The story could have been interesting but it just wasn't well writtenI received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review This is different sort of novel about colonialism and culture than I've read before Rather than focusing on what happened in a literal sense this story circles around the early impacts of German British and French colonialism in what would become Cameroon By focusing on the stories of Sara and Nebu I got a different view of the rather nonsensical way that colonialism forced its way into the lives of ordinary people who were influenced by cultural exchanges and shifts between their own communities as well as by Christian missionaries who are also described with a rather bemused eye The Sultan's story is also revealing in the way that Cameroonian leaders might have tried to adapt or weather the Europeans' insertion of themselves where they didn't belong and the sometimes tragic ways that leaders tried to adapt to something they expected would be over soon enoughThe frame story a historian interviewing the elderly Sara provides the anchor and a level of joy and sadness in the discovery lost history culture and art And the primary stories are told with a sort of nostalgic sort of magical tone that memories might have when they are rarely spoken out loudFinally another great thing about this book is that it describes historical figures like Sultan Njoya and Charles Atangana even as it spins a fictional story instead of an exact historical account

  • Kindle Edition
  • 506 pages
  • Mont Plaisant
  • Patrice Nganang
  • French
  • 01 May 2016

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