The Curl

Book: The Curl Author: Raymond George Ward Publisher: Raymond George Publishing & Writersworld Price: Kindle £6.99 | Paperback £ 9.99 and hardback £12.77 on Amazon Review by Barbara Grant  

In The Curl we meet Grantlee Copeland, who moved to Sandringham Road, London from sunny Jamaica to live with his aunt Carmen and her husband known to friends as ‘Count’.

Count’s experience of living in the UK has not been as easy as he would have liked, and he is disillusioned by the overt racism in the Motherland – the great British Empire.

The people are cold and unwelcoming, much like the weather. Life is tough, but with a generous dose of shrewdness and street smarts, Count is able to build business opportunities using ‘The Curl’  The Curl is a form of funding that harks back to the black ancestral way of saving and raising funds in and by the community and outside of mainstream financial markets,  to realise his business ambitions.

Count sees no reason to give his nephew any sort of handout, or leg up. After all, he has had to fight for every penny he’s made so “why should the boy get a free pass?”  It’s not long before cracks begin to surface in the family relationship. Long suffering aunt Carmen is unable to argue Grantlee’s case when Count’s precious business “book” disappears.

Count believes Grantlee has stolen his business bible for its contacts and wants it back.  When that fails to happen, Count unceremoniously evicts Grantlee from the family home with nowhere to go. This single course of action sets them on a path of deep seated dislike.

Grantlee’s has learnt a thing or two about entrepreneurship and money making from his uncle Count. He first subscribes to the “make it not earn it” school of thought, keen to make money at any cost. Consequently, he finds himself on a winding path to success.

However, Grantlee’s business success is not without its own challenges. Before long, his “make it not earn it” approach lands him in the middle of a pyramid scheme. He powers on and eventually goes on to build a more modern business enterprise that he secretly hopes will unseat Count as the local ‘big man’.

If nothing, he want to prove that Count was wrong to underestimate him, to write him off as a no hoper; wrong not to see him as a viable heir and wrong to turn his back on family leaving Grantlee to exact revenge on Count and his business empire.

The Curl is an intergenerational story that shows changing times, attitudes and approaches to economic success in life in the black community. In trying to get ahead economically truths are revealed about the lives of Grantlee and his uncle Count which are more entangled and entwined than either intended or considered.

This upbeat novel portrays a family splintered by greed, bound by a shared pursuit of survival. Where men are driven towards a perilous climax where greed and manipulation may bring one man’s dreams to a screeching halt.

A wonderfully nostalgic novel from first time self-published author Raymond George Ward that speaks to a very early form of trust-based ‘crowdfunding or pardner,’ used by many immigrants from African and the Caribbean communities to achieve economic and financial stability.

This funding method has stood the test of time, and is still used in various guises among older and the Windrush generations today.