The BlackWoods Author: Brandy Colbert, Publisher: Balzer + Bray. (Image: DC)
Heads turn and conversations stop mid-sentence when the Blackwoods of Hollywood walk in. An absorbing novel dwelling on the lives of four generations of the most famous Black family in Hollywood is the main crux in celebrated author Brandy Colbert’s The Blackwoods. Fame and fortune favour those who work hard and never give up, but in showbiz luck also plays a vital role. Blossom Blackwood (96), the matriarch of the Blackwoods family, took Hollywood by storm when she entered showbiz in 1962. Little did anyone know that she would be a trailblazer and one of the most celebrated actors in Hollywood. The novel fluctuates between two different periods, the 1940s, when a young lass (Blossom) is struggling hard to get a foothold in movies, and the present when her granddaughters (Ardith) and (Hollis) do not know how to cope after the loss of their "Bebe’.
When Blossom Blackwood dies, the entertainment industry and the Blackwoods household are drowned in a pall of gloom. The paparazzi are back peeping into their private lives. Ardith, who was a television star since childhood and a rising celebrity in her own right is used to fame and 24x7 media attention. After her mother’s death due to a drug overdose, Bebe meant the world to Ardith. Hollis on the other hand prefers to be invisible and in the fringes. So, when some of her private photos are leaked in the press, Hollis is angry. She feels like a lost and helpless soul. Both the cousins remember the time they spent with their ‘Bebe". She was their anchor and a formidable woman, who always gave them the right advice during a crisis. However, when a family secret comes out in the open, they wonder what was Bebe’s ‘real’ and ‘reel’ world. The author sensitively captures the insecurities and frustrations that celebrities and their families go through when the lines between private and public lives get blurred. Colbert also touches on disparity, discrimination, sexual harassment, and hardships that working women, particularly black women had to go through in the olden days in showbiz.