No Man in the House


217 pages
ISBN 0-394-22112-5
DDC C813'.54




Reviewed by Matt Hartman

Matt Hartman is a freelance editor and cataloguer, running Hartman Cataloguing, Editing and Indexing Services.


Foster came to Canada from Barbados in 1979 and went into journalism,
working for The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, and Conrad Black’s
Contrast. He is now senior editor at The Financial Post.

In this novel about a young black child in Barbados, Howard Prescod and
his two brothers have been raised by their grandmother. Their mother and
father abandoned the island for Britain, and, after several years of
sending money, have now disappeared without a trace. Howard’s
grandmother does whatever she can to ensure there is enough food for the
household, which includes her two daughters. The old woman is religious,
strict, and proud, but Howard’s only chance to escape a life of
continuing poverty and dead-end employment is to pass the final
examinations at the local public boys’ school.

The novel, although not billed as “young adult,” will appeal most
to that reading group. It is written in the first person (from young
Howard’s point of view), using the island’s picturesque vernacular
and capturing the flavors and colors of Caribbean life. Foster has woven
Howard’s story into a larger plot: the political turmoil of the
island’s 1963–64 independence movement. An election, fought over the
issue of independence, will determine whether Barbados remains a British
colony. Howard’s growth into maturity represents a microcosm of the
island’s development. Recommended for the young-adult section of the
public library.


Foster, Cecil., “No Man in the House,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 20, 2024,