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French Island Elegance

17Letters From the Global Province

Global Province

French Island Elegance

But we can recommend to collectors and patrons alike French Island Elegance, a handsome book by furniture and Caribbean scholar Michael Connors, an eminently likeable chap. In “Caribbean Furnishings Man” we had previously cited his Caribbean Elegance. What we like about this volume is that Connors clearly sees the connection between class (the French aristocracy, unlike the English, moved into the islands), commerce (the sugar trade), and the distinctive French furniture and architecture that arose in the islands during parts of the 18th and 19th century. “The rapid decline of the sugar economy and plantation life, along with the abolition of slavery during the Industrial Revolution, led to a generation of smaller island homes and less elaborate furniture.” By the 20th century, all this had faded away. Those who made great things happen are forgotten, and they are known today only by their sticks and stones. The trick for a vibrant region is never to be free of class, but always to be free of caste.