Windward Family

Alexis Keir

It took two decades for me to go in search of the parts of myself I had left behind in the Caribbean. What ghosts were waiting for me there? There was a thick, black journal in my flat, stuffed with letters, postcards, handwritten notes and diary entries. For the first time in years, I opened it.’

Twenty years after living there as a child, Alexis Keir returns to the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent. He is keen to uncover lost memories and rediscover old connections. But he also carries with him the childhood scars of being separated from his parents and put into uncaring hands.

Inspired by the embrace of his relatives in the Caribbean, Alexis begins to unravel the stories of others who left Saint Vincent, searching through diary pages and newspaper articles, shipping and hospital records and faded photographs. He uncovers tales of exploitation, endeavour and bravery of those who had to find a home far away from where they were born.

A child born with vitiligo, torn from his mother’s arms to be exhibited as a showground attraction in England; a woman who, in the century before the Windrush generation, became one of the earliest Black nurses to be recorded as working in a London hospital; a young boy who became a footman in a Yorkshire stately home. And Alexis’s mother, a student nurse who arrives in 1960s London, ready to start a new life in a cold, grey country – and the man from her island whom she falls in love with.

From the Caribbean to England, North America and New Zealand, from windswept islands to the rainy streets of London, and spanning generations of travellers from the 19th century to the present, Windward Family takes you inside the beating heart of a Black British family, separated by thousands of miles but united by love, loss and belonging.

Read what everyone is saying about Windward Family:

‘Being Black British is more than an identity, it is a journey into uncharted waters of personal history. Alexis Keir’s deeply moving account will ring true for all of those navigating their own stories.’ David Lammy

‘Infused with hope… pertinent and timely… with beautiful touches of memories that will resonate with any child born of Caribbean parents in the UK… honest, poetic and deeply researched excellence.’ Paterson Joseph, actor and author of The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho

‘With a tender mix of prose and historical re-imagining, Alexis creates with words, a symphony of movement that mimics his travels and journeys across continents, in search of identity and belonging. A beautiful ode to migration, love and all that we do for family.’ Florence Ọlájídé, author of Coconut

‘By turns heartbreaking and hopeful. Deeply moving.’ Anita Sethi

‘Brilliant… Profound… written in lyrical cinematic prose. I reread many passages strictly for their beauty.’ H. Nigel Thomas

Poignant… like reading about your own ancestors, who were once lost but now found and brought to life… a joy to read.’ Anni Domingo

‘A beautiful, illuminating read. Full of heart and wisdom.’ Irenosen Okojie

Beautiful, evocative… tells the story of modern Britain as much as it does of this one man.’ Stella Duffy

‘An incredible memoir… truly compellingtruly heartbreakingI was hooked.’ Goodreads reviewer

Heart wrenchingabsolutely flawless!’ Goodreads reviewer

Beautifully writtenhad me hooked from the beginning. Refreshing and informative… Fab fab book.’ Goodreads reviewer

Heartbreakingstunning and beautiful.’ Goodreads reviewer

‘Alexis Keir paints a picture so vivid that I could feel the sun on my face, I could smell the sea and taste the foodA brilliant and well deserved 5 stars. The narration was perfect too.’ Goodreads reviewer

Sheer beauty… an incredible ancestry, allowing those forgotten to be placed into history forevermore.’ Goodreads reviewer

Very powerful and gripping.’ Goodreads reviewer

I fell in love with this story.’ Goodreads reviewer

A labour of love, and every word is heartfelt.’ Goodreads reviewer

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