Ladies of the Night


174 pages
ISBN 0-920813-51-8
DDC C813'.54




Reviewed by Susan Manningham

Susan Manningham teaches sociology at Queen’s University in Kingston.


Althea Prince was born on the Caribbean island of Antigua and has lived
in Toronto since 1965. Her short stories, essays, and poetry have
appeared in numerous magazines and journals and she is also author of
two books for young people.

The title story in this collection is a tale of a mother and daughter
in conflict. Perhaps more than conflict, it is a struggle for survival
set within a patriarchal society. The relationship is intensified by the
conflicting elements of loyalty, greed, and jealousy that bind them

What is likable about Prince’s writing is its unpredictability. Just
when you think you have a character squarely in your sights some action,
word, or deed throws all your preconceived notions of understanding out
the window, and you are forced to begin the assessment again. This makes
the experience of this book both exciting and unsettling.

The rest of the collection, set in Toronto and Antigua, captures a
range of black women’s experience. There are raw and powerful tales of
infidelity, the problems experienced by women and men in sustaining
strong relationships, and the difficulties black women have in
recovering and reclaiming their identities after personal adversity.

All of Prince’s stories are written in strong, muscular prose through
which the honesty of the experience shines like a beacon. Without being
patronizing in any way, they are very much the product of a Caribbean
experience—yet they have a certain Torontonian sophistication that at
first glance seems to co-exist uneasily with the prevailing robustness
of the prose. But it is this very tension that gives these stories their
character and individuality and sets them apart as being both highly
original and a joy to read.


Prince, Althea., “Ladies of the Night,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 17, 2024,