There is perhaps no other person who has been so often and obsessively featured in any writer’s canon as Jamaica Kincaid’s mother, Annie Drew. In this provocative new book, Daryl Dance argues that everything Kincaid has written, regardless of its apparent theme, actually relates to Kincaid’s efforts to free herself from her mother, whether her subject is ostensibly other family members, her home nation, a precolonial world, or even Kincaid herself.A devoted reader of Kincaid’s work, Dance had long been aware of the author’s love-hate relationship with her mother, but it was not until reading the 2008 essay "The Estrangement" that Dance began to ponder who this woman named Annie Victoria Richardson Drew really was. Dance decided to seek the answers herself, embarking on a years-long journey to unearth the real Annie Drew.
Through interviews and extensive research, Dance has pieced together a fuller, more contextualized picture in an attempt to tell Annie Drew’s story. Previous analyses of Kincaid’s relationship with her mother have not gone beyond the writer’s own carefully orchestrated and sometimes contrived portraits of her. In Search of Annie Drew offers an alternate reading of Kincaid’s work that expands our understanding of the object of such passionate love and such ferocious hatred, an ordinary woman who became an unforgettable literary figure through her talented daughter’s renderings.
In Search of Annie Drew is daring, controversial, and impressive. Through meticulous attention to Kincaid’s own words, as well as to the few that Drew provided, Dance succeeds in showing a tangled emotional relationship between two exceptionally strong personalities, neither of whom would admit--consistently and directly--her tremendous love for the other. This war of a relationship is responsible for the writer Kincaid became as well as for the subject matter of most of her works.
This study, interwoven with Annie's friends' accounts and Kincaid's literary world, reveals a fascinating glimpse of Annie Drew's life.... Anyone acquainted with Kincaid's work will be intrigued by this portrayal.