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Lime Tree Can't Bear Orange: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Amanda Smyth
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.00
Kindle Price: $7.99
You Save: $6.01 (43%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Men will want you like they want a glass of rum…One man will love you. But you won’t love him. You will destroy his life. The one you love will break your heart in two.

So says the soothsayer, when predicting young Celia’s future. Raised in the tropics of Tobago by an aunt she loves and an uncle she fears, Celia has never felt that she belonged. When her uncle–a man the neighbors call Allah because he thinks himself mightier than God–does something unforgivable, Celia escapes to the bustling capital city.

There she quickly embraces her burgeoning independence, but her search for a place to call home is soon complicated by an affectionate friendship with William, a thoughtful gardener, and a strong sexual tension with her employer. All too quickly, Celia finds herself fulfilling the soothsayer’s predictions and living a life of tangled desperation–trapped between the man who offers her passion and the one who offers his heart.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Smyth's enchanting debut, set in Black Rock, Tobago, young protagonist Celia D'Abadie searches for traces of her absent lineage—the mother who died in childbirth and the white father reputed to live in England. Raised by her aunt Tassi in the shadow of fear cast by her lecherous uncle, Roman, Celia is given a prophetic glimpse into her future from Mrs. Jeremiah, the village seer. At 16, Celia flees after Roman rapes her, and en route to Trinidad, she meets William Shamiel. Under the guidance of William's family, Celia secures a job working as a maid for Dr. Emmanuel Rodriguez, his fragile English wife, Helen, and their two children. Celia moves into their dysfunctional home and balances relationships with two men vying for her affection. As Celia and her employer become closer, Helen's dramatic descent into madness becomes more apparent. While the story line—naïve boonies dweller moves to big city and learns about life and love—has been done a million times, Smyth's deftly captured tropical landscape and superstitions are enough of a tweak to keep things interesting. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"The Caribbean's tropical sights and smells permeate Smyth's moving debut novel, but all is not paradise…Smyth paints a vivid portrait of a naive young girl who learns some hard truths about herself and her family, but though Celia's story is not always happy, it's arresting and powerful, a shining testament to human resilience.“
The Miami Herald

"Like Alice Walker, Smyth vividly and empathetically re-creates the gender and racial tensions in a culture’s past, making them newly relevant. Smyth is so attuned to the texture and flavor of Caribbean life, and she mimics the island patois so well.”

“[An] enchanting debut….Smyth’s deftly captured tropical landscape and superstitions….keep things interesting.”
Publishers Weekly

"A remarkably assured debut, written in a controlled yet vibrant and beautiful prose that makes as much of the heart-stopping landscape of Trinidad as it does the cast of characters who inhabit the novel. A worthy relative of Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea."
Mslexia magazine

“Smyth writes entrancingly on tropical heat and light, indolence, vengeance and desire.”
The Guardian

“Smyth is Irish-Trinidadian, and her writing is as lushly beautiful as the landscape she describes - it's the kind of novel that leaves your head filled with gorgeous pictures.”
Times (London)

Certain novels are alive with color. Written in lush, lyrical language evocative of its tropical setting, Amanda Smyth's Lime Tree Can’t Bear Orange is awash with bougainvillea, parakeets, blue crabs, manicous, rum, coconuts and obeah folk magic...Smyth's debut is an absorbing and morally complex read with a bittersweet twist at the end.
Financial Times

“A captivating read.”...

Product Details

  • File Size: 395 KB
  • Print Length: 290 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307460649
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (June 30, 2009)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #623,445 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I hate to say it because I was really looking forward to this book, but it inspired nothing in me. I kept reading because it was there not because I couldn't stop. Its a beautiful book in terms of atmosphere, maybe even too beautiful since the scenery seems to dominate instead of the characters. Emotions are bland and motivations are unclear and I felt no empathy for the main character because her experiences seemed to be a catalogue of West Indian literary experiences. I would compare it to Jamaica Kincaid's work without any of the power or feeling.

My other major complaint is that the book reads like a bit of a travel log. Again it seems the author is ticking off a list of all of the "must-see" places in Trinidad and Tobago. We go from Black Rock, to the black urban Port-of-Spain, to the wealthier white suburbs, the savannah, down the islands, the rural country... The constant change of scene gives the author a lot to work with, but takes away from any cohesion in the story. In each location its like we're reading about different characters because they don't blend. And by the end of the book I had the feeling that the author really did have a check list of things she felt had to be included to make this novel "definitive" West Indian literature.

This book has too much and too little all at once. I can't fault the style of writing, its very readable. But that doesn't make it a good story. This book should have been great, but instead I found it to be a dreary catalogue of places and events that at the end of the day I really didn't care about.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Depressing yet beautiful September 13, 2009
By T.L.
Celia has never known her parents. Her Aunt Tassi tells her that her mother died in childbirth, and her father, an Englishman, went back to England. And so the only home Celia has known is the modest home of her Aunt Tassi in Tobago. She lives there with her annoying younger twin cousins Vera and Violet, and to make matters worse, Aunt Tassi marries an alcoholic named Roman who makes her uncomfortable.

Celia has a lot of potential. She's pretty and smart. Her school teacher tells her she should plan to go to university - that she can be anything she wants to be, but when step uncle Roman corners her alone at home one day, Celia knows she can't stay there any longer.

She runs away to Trinidad, with the intention of finding her Aunt Sula, who has visited her a few times in Tobago. In Trinidad, she eventually comes to believe her luck has changed when she finds a job caring for the children of a doctor and his wife, but soon she is forced into an affair which threatens to rip apart a family, and break her heart.

The writing in this novel is beautiful and even those who have never been to this part of the world, will be able to picture it as if they grew up there. The author did well to create a main character who is not perfect, (and thus not at all boring), but with whom you easily empathize with. Over all the story is depressing, but the ending is optimistic enough that you close the book satisfied.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and Brutal March 26, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have to say that I was surprised that I liked this book. This is a very atmospheric novel; I feel as though I was part of the story--I could see taste and smell everything that was going on. The plot was actually quite thin, but I kept reading because I was captivated by the tropical setting of Trinidad/Tobogo. The plot centers around a young, very smart, very beautiful girl named Celia. She has never known her parents--was raised by her aunt Tassi whom she dearly loves and her uncle Roman who she greatly fears. A brutal act of violence forces Celia from the only home she has ever known. She befriends a man named William who takes het to heart and helps her find a job caring for a doctor's children. At this point I kept reading because I cared about her relationship with the doctor and his wife, Helen. I wanted more for Celia, but it really seemed as though she found peace at home with the doctor's family.

The fact that the author, Amanda Smyth knows her setting well and loves her characters really comes across well to the reader. For that reason I would recommend this book. I feel I should also mention that this is the first book I read on my Kindle. It's very easy to read from even in the bright sunlight. I love the Kindle!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Like entering another world February 28, 2010
I really felt I was inside this book: I could taste, smell, see, and experience everything. The beautiful language and the strange, beautiful setting were completely absorbing; I was transported to that time and place. I think I felt more strongly about things that the main character did; throughout, she simply observes everything. She never really feels like a fully-developed character, more like a very linguistically gifted observer. So much else was gorgeous and rewarding about the book that I wanted to fall in love with the main character, too, but never could. It's impossible to be inside of her head because she never seems to be a part of her own experiences, never seems to develop awareness of herself, in fact never seems to have real thoughts. This style of narration would work for an objective third-person narrator but seems a strange choice for a story told in the first-person point of view. Nevertheless, while the main character doesn't seem to develop, and never comes to any sort of resolution about the mistakes she's made, the rest of the story is so interesting--the characters of William, Tassi, and Helen are particularly compelling--that it's worth staying with till the end. I will read more from Ms. Smyth with interest.
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