Tea by the Sea
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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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.
"Tea By the Sea is a powder keg of a novel, where secrets and lies explode into truth and consequences, all told with spellbinding, shattering power. Hemans doesn't just fulfill the promise of her debut-- she soars past it."
--Marlon James, Man Booker Prize Winning author of Black Leopard, Red Wolf
Op-ed in Electric Literature
The forbidden love story of Plum and Lenworth comes alive in this heart-rending novel, Tea by the Sea. Hemans has a stunning ability to give words to that elusive feeling of emptiness, and the longing for redemption is palpable. In Hemans's deft hands, regrets are explored with precision and compassion so that the reader finds herself unable to turn against even characters who have committed the most wretched betrayals. Tea by the Sea is like the story told in a grandmother's kitchen with the odors of fried dumplings and saltfish wafting into mouths that are set agape at the heady twists and turns delivered in an urgent and beautiful prose.
--Lauren Francis-Sharma, author of 'Til the Well Runs Dry
Tea by the Sea is an insightful and illuminating prism of a novel, deftly examining familial identity and personal transformation. Hemans turns the kaleidoscope, catching light at different angles, to show us how one person's act of honor and responsibility can also be an act of unspeakable betrayal.
--Carolyn Parkhurst, author of The Dogs of Babel and Harmony
Review in Booklist