The Cook and the Writer: Maryse Condé's Journey of Self-Discovery

Bonnie Thomas


In her 2006 memoir, Victoire, les saveurs et les mots, (translated into English as Victoire: My Mother’s Mother), celebrated Guadeloupean writer Maryse Condé makes an explicit comparison between herself and her maternal grandmother Victoire. A work of literary invention as much as of personal reflection, this book represents an example of Condé’s quest to know herself as a woman and a writer. It also enables her to fill in some of the gaps left by her mother Jeanne who was always reluctant to share details of her childhood with her daughter and died when Condé was only twenty. One of the few facts Jeanne gives to her about Victoire is that she was a cook and that the results of her labour helped open the doors to greater autonomy for her daughter and, consequently, her granddaughter. This paper will examine the way in which food and cooking are linked to Condé’s journey of self-discovery as well as to the historical trajectory of the French Caribbean islands of Marie-Galante and Guadeloupe.


French Caribbean; Maryse Condé; memory; Relation

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