The French Cashew Tree by Parrain Thorance

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The French Cashew Tree by Parrain Thorance

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Category: Autobiography
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A delightful telling of the life of a storyteller, actor, dancer and - above all - an accomplished storyteller.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 110 Date: May 2017
Publisher: AuthorHouseUK
ISBN: 978-1524681456

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The place isn't given a name, but we can work out that it's in the Caribbean and it's here that Parrain Thorance had an idyllic childhood with his parents, brother and sister until he was eight years old. It was then that his mother died suddenly and the family was broken up: his brother and sister went to live with an aunt and Parrain stayed with his father - but an aunt and uncle moved into the family home. The aunt - his father's sister - was fine, but Parrain and her husband never got on. The easy, generous days of childhood, sitting under the titular French Cashew Tree might still be there superficially, but paradise would never be untainted again.

And it was paradise, not in the sense of wealth, but of a loving family, supported by a wider family network, particularly Parrain's godmother Nen. Local crops were abundant, his home overlooked a valley, with misty mountains in the distance. His father worked locally at several jobs and Parrain adored him. There were friends to play with in abundance. At school he did well in the arts, but was not so strong when it came to maths, which made it all the stranger that when he left school his early jobs would all involved figures.

Unsurprisingly his heart wasn't in these jobs: it was with the world of dance and eventually with acting, and it was this side of his life which brought him to the UK in 1958, with all the pressures not just of finding work but of having to buy winter clothes and pay for the food and accommodation which had been so plentifully available at home, as he attempted to breakthrough, not to the big time, but to the fairly-rewarded time, which seemed elusive on so many occasions. He's remarkably balanced (and he could be forgiven for not being) about auditioning for parts only to find that he wasn't black enough, certainly not if he was aiming to play an African and of having to 'black up' for parts.

Thorance describes himself as a storyteller, actor, dancer and writer. I can't speak about his acting and dancing, but he has a supreme ability to tell a good story. I read The French Cashew Tree in one sitting, falling captive to the atmosphere he created and the short chapters which made it so easy to read just one more - and then another. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag. It was a delight to read.

For the story of someone who went to the Caribbean we can recommend Hummingbirds in My Hair: Adventures of a Diplomatic Wife in the Caribbean by Pamela O'Cuneen

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Buy The French Cashew Tree by Parrain Thorance at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The French Cashew Tree by Parrain Thorance at


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