Lauren Francis-Sharma’s debut novel ‘Til the Well Runs Dry is a richly woven tale about family, love and sacrifice. Set mostly in the lush environment of Trinidad in the World War II era, the story’s protagonist Marcia Garcia was inspired by Francis-Sharma’s grandmother. When Francis-Sharma’s grandmother was in a hospital nearing death, the lawyer-turned-author was confronted with the reality that she never really knew the woman’s story. She took it upon herself to ask questions and visit her parents’ native Trinidad. What she found was a colorful and multi-layered story that planted the seed for this novel.
When the novel opens, the readers meet Marcia Garcia, a beautiful 16-year-old girl who works as a seamstress to support herself and the mentally challenged twin boys under her charge. With a dead mother and an absentee father, Marcia has done a respectable job of using her hard work to carve out a simple, but loving environment for the boys. Readers soon meet Farouk Karam, a handsome young police officer who works in a near-by town.
Francis-Sharma tells the story by flipping chapter to chapter from Marcia’s and then Farouk’s first-person narratives. It is delightful to see their early courtship from each person’s perspective. The heart and mind are laid bare for the readers to consume. It’s a complicated and passionate courtship that simmers and bubbles over and transforms over time, as love is often wont to do.
Farouk at one point is so frustrated with Marcia’s stubbornness that he enlists the help of an obeah (similar to voodoo) woman. This changes the course of the relationship and has lasting impacts. A disturbing secret also plays a major role in the storyline. The novel is full of dramatic moments and page-turning events dealing with death and love and rage and bottomless sorrow. But Francis-Sharma deftly tells this story with grace and confidence. There is a more literary aspect to the novel in the way that issues of race, class, mental health, gender dynamics and other multi-faceted topics are addressed. It’s a thought-provoking novel that would make for a good book club selection.
‘Til the Well Runs Dry is strong debut novel and it is on shelves now.
Demetria Irwin is a New York City-based (Detroit born) freelance writer. Follow her on Twitter at @Love_Is_Dope and connect with her on Facebook.