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*Selected as one of the Best Books of the Week by the New York Post*
A seventeen-year-old taken from her mother at birth; an Episcopal priest with a daughter whose face he cannot bear to see; a mother weary of searching for her lost child: Tea by the Sea is their story—that of a family uniting and unraveling. To find the daughter taken from her, Plum Valentine must find the child’s father who walked out of a hospital with the day-old baby girl without explanation. Seventeen years later, weary of her unfruitful search, Plum sees an article in a community newspaper with a photo of the man for whom she has spent half her life searching. He has become an Episcopal priest. Her plan: confront him and walk away with the daughter he took from her. From Brooklyn to the island of Jamaica, Tea by the Sea traces Plum’s circuitous route to find her daughter and how Plum’s and the priest’s love came apart.
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|Publisher:||Red Hen Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)|
About the Author
Jamaican-born Donna Hemans is the author of the novel River Woman, winner of the 2003–4 Towson University Prize for Literature. Tea by the Sea, for which she won the Lignum Vitae Una Marson Award for Adult Literature, is her second novel. Her short fiction has appeared in the Caribbean Writer, Crab Orchard Review, Witness, and the anthology Stories from Blue Latitudes: Caribbean Women Writers at Home and Abroad, among others. She received her undergraduate degree from Fordham University and an MFA from American University. She lives in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Read an Excerpt
Anchovy in those days was quiet, a little slip of a town seven miles from Montego Bay on the main road from Reading on the north coast to Savanna-la-Mar on the south coast. Except for a bird sanctuary off the main road that led to Anchovy, rafting on the Lethe River, and an abandoned railway station, Anchovy and the small towns immediately surrounding it weren’t known for much. Anchovy wasn’t a market town, not like Brown’s Town, which Lenworth had just left and which swelled on market days—Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays—with vendors from nearby and faraway towns, who spread out beyond the covered market in makeshift stalls along the road or simply pushed their bunched or packaged goods at potential customers with a plea or a price. Even a Thursday afternoon in Brown’s Town when stores shut early to prepare for the Friday and Saturday afternoon swell of customers felt more alive than Anchovy did. But the relative quiet of the town wasn’t what mattered. What did? Plum wouldn’t find him there. Really, no one would look in that particular location for Lenworth since he had only an indirect connection to Anchovy through distant relatives. More importantly, it was not a connection his immediate family members or acquaintances would know.
What Plum thought in that moment was not how Lenworth and Pauline would deal with the child’s outburst—dismissal from the table? A stern talking-to?—but how Lenworth had wiped away her life. She was no more than the scribbles on a chalkboard, removed with a single downward swipe leaving only tiny particles swirling in the air, landing indiscriminately on everything within reach. Had he looked at her that night in the hospital—still fatigued from labor, drowsy from medication—and seen a dying woman or a woman struggling to live? And she had struggled. And she had lived, pushed and pulled and willed herself to climb from the weakness pulling her under, struggled until she regained the normal rhythm of breathing, and came out on top. She had lived to hold the baby she wanted to call Marissa, had lived to look up at him and smile, triumphant.
Her smile hadn’t mattered.
He declared her dead and walked away with her child.