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'Til the Well Runs Dry: A Novel Hardcover – April 22, 2014

4.5 out of 5 stars 247 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* On Trinidad, in 1943, Marcia Garcia, a splendidly talented, 16-year-old seamstress, is struggling to feed young twin boys left in her charge. Remarkably accomplished first-time novelist Francis-Sharma makes it clear on page one that Marcia is strong, courageous, and resourceful. She is also French, Portuguese, Spanish, black, and beautiful, and she has a galvanizing effect on a young, confident Indian policeman, Farouk Karam. Their love should have been joyous, and they should have been able to raise their four children in harmony. Instead, their relationship is poisoned by racism, poverty, gossip, and corruption. Farouk’s parents vehemently object to their relationship, Marcia conceals horrific family secrets, and the obeah woman Farouk goes to for help betrays them. Francis-Sharma’s consummate portrayal of her stubborn, conflicted characters subtly illuminates the rigidity and treachery of Trinidadian society. Yet when Marcia goes to America in 1962, after her oldest daughter gets tangled up in a dangerous plexus of politics and drugs, she is confronted by far more brutal forms of prejudice and abuse. Francis-Sharma’s spellbinding, intimately detailed, psychologically lush, and suspenseful tale of racial and sexual trauma, hard work, love, and family devotion makes personal the injustice people endured in the years leading up to the civil rights movement in both multicultural Trinidad and segregated America. --Donna Seaman

Review

“Marcia's story, told lovingly in this, Francis-Sharma's debut novel, is as universally touching as it is original.” ―The New York Times

[A] remarkably accomplished first-time novelist. . . .Francis-Sharma's spellbinding, intimately detailed, psychologically lush, and suspenseful tale of racial and sexual trauma, hard work, love, and family devotion makes personal the injustice people endured in the years leading up to the civil rights movement in both multicultural Trinidad and segregated America.” ―Booklist (Starred Review)

“You'll hear the calypso music in this vivid debut about a spirited seamstress and devoted mother with a family secret.” ―People

A saga ripe with heartbreak and joy . . . Francis-Sharma delivers a rich and satisfying debut on the ties of family, love, and culture.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“Have you ever met a family whose every tear, every triumph, every heartbreak made your heart leap? I could not put this book down. An unforgettable journey. ” ―Dolen Perkins-Valdez, author of the New York Times bestseller Wench

“Lauren Francis-Sharma takes us to the island of Trinidad, the ‘Land of the hummingbird,' in a story that feels like a song, with a chorus of voices across generations, revealing a culture as vibrant and enriching as it is overlooked by those on the mainland.” ―Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University

“Lauren Francis-Sharma is a true story-teller.‘Til the Well Runs Dry burns through its telling like the best gossip, but has the controlled mystery of a fairytale. This narrative is surprising, winding and always gratifying.” ―Tiphanie Yanique, author of Land of Love and Drowning

10 Titles to Pick Up Now” ―O, The Oprah Magazine

'Til The Well Runs Dry is unforgettable. Like the best poetry, it has all the high notes: a beautiful girl, a spell that leads to love and death, and a terrible secret -- in language pierced with the cries and colors of the West Indies. But this is not just a story; it's the author's retelling of her own origins. Sweet, brutal, and unsparing, this is Lauren Francis-Sharma's first book, yet she commands the page.” ―Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Deep End of the Ocean

An evocative and emotionally resonant family saga with one of the most compelling heroines I've met in a long time. A story of love, loss, and triumph set in a world of secret and moral consequence. Like the Obeah woman in her story, Lauren Francis-Sharma has cast a spell that refuses to release me. I won't forget this story or the voice of this wonderful new writer any time soon.” ―Brunonia Barry, New York Times bestselling author of The Lace Reader

“‘Alone, I sat on the sand and took in the beauty of my grandmother's land' was the reason Lauren Francis-Sharma gave for writing her remarkable debut ‘Til The Well Runs Dry. I was swept away by this thunderous, witty, and deeply soulful novel about family, Trinidad, secrets, porch sitters, dirt roads and passion. And so satisfying, like the first time I read my aunt's novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God.” ―Lucy Anne Hurston

“A first novel, yes. But balanced with experiences, imagery, and characters that linger on the flesh. Eyes. In the heart. And as I read the last paragraph and closed the book, I knew that I had experienced an amazing journey of light. Thank you my dear sister for this wonderful book.” ―Sonia Sanchez, poet and writer

I devoured ‘Til the Well Runs Dry in three short nights. I couldn't wait to get back to the stories and the characters who I almost didn't want to be fiction, because I cared so much about their ever-after. I found Lauren Francis-Sharma's world, so familiar to me, a place with hidden corners hiding deep secrets I couldn't wait to unravel and then to have my breath pause as they revealed themselves in ways I couldn't imagine. Her story might be about a girl from Blanchisseuse, but above that it is an extraordinary story about a misunderstood girl who knows how to stand her ground.” ―Victoria Brown, author of Minding Ben

“With an intense voice, Lauren Francis-Sharma draws us into old Trinidad, weaving a classic immigrant's tale, punctuated with the heady scents and rhythms of a bygone time, carrying us to the new world.” ―Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, author of A Tiger in the Kitchen

“Lauren Francis-Sharma's debut novel, 'Til the Well Runs Dry, illuminates a complex and beautiful Trinidad… [And] at the heart of 'Til the Well Runs Dry is Marcia Garcia's delightful, eccentric story of several decades, several children, much resilience, many secrets, romance, and harrowing immigration. In 'Til the Well Runs Dry, Lauren Francis-Sharma has gone looking for her own personal history and has written as well an important narrative celebrating the African and South Asian people who created Caribbean culture.” ―Breena Clarke, bestselling author of River, Cross My Heart and Angels Make Their Hope Here

“Francis-Sharma's breathtaking debut . . . is as stunning as the artwork on the cover. She creates a heroine in Garcia that readers will root for--and remember fondly. This story of one woman's journey of womanhood and discernment is not to be missed.” ―Sergie Willoughby, The Network Journal

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (April 22, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805098038
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805098037
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (247 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,388 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Review based on ARC.

Oh man, how even to review this one. I signed up to get this one because it had something to do with Trinidad. That was really all that motivated me. Otherwise, it sounded kind of trite... ya know, "multigenerational" "multicultural" "blah blah blah." But my mom is from Trinidad and, unlike the author of this book, I have NOT heard much from her about her home-country. I was hoping the book might give me even the slightest of inside looks... And boy did it.

I would not describe this book as "multigenerational" or "multi-cultural," even though those are both accurate descriptions. The issue I have with those phrases is that they tend to accompany stories that don't offer much else beyond the obvious "that generation doesn't get it" dynamic or "look how different and yet the same these cultures are!" And those can be fantastic books, but I find that relying on the cheap tricks often make the story seem... well, a little cheap.

That was NOT the case here. Lauren Francis-Sharma created a compelling, interesting, fast-paced, deep, involved story with an undercurrent of.. like, gut-truth. I didn't feel as if I were reading some fantasy creation of someone with no idea of what real life was actually like. I felt like... I felt like I was maybe sitting at a kitchen table somewhere with someone's grandmother who was telling the story of her life.

And what a story. Ever so briefly: Marcia Garcia ("Mah-see-ah Gah-see-ah") lives in "the Bush" in Trinidad (i.e., the wrong side of the tracks...) with the boys she cares for. Her mind is nowhere near romance or the other frivolities of life when Farouk spots her and determines he must have her.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
... until it's gone. At its core, " 'Til the Well Runs Dry" is a love story that spans 22 years. The story is told in three voices: that of Marcia Garcia; her lover, policeman Farouk Karam; and their second-born daughter, Jacqueline.

Marcia Garcia is a teenager trying to single-handedly take care of 3-year-old twins who are not well. Her parents and sister are gone, and she sews to make enough money to keep the small family afloat. Then she meets policeman Farouk. Their story is unique - not at all like I thought it would be. Instead of being fireworks and the fairy-tale-like happily ever after, Farouk and Marcia (it's Mar-see-uh) share a turbulent relationship - where superstition and a kind of black magic, secrets left unshared, and trust shattered and not rebuilt - all work against them, despite hearts that truly do seem to beat for and reach out for each other. Marcia, Farouk and their family felt real and believable - and their troubles made their story come alive more. Without giving away too much of the story, let it suffice to say the lingering message I took away from their story is to look around and realize what's priceless in your life and appreciate what you have before it's too late.

Hearing Jacqueline's sweet voice explain events in the story proved an effective and wonderful addition to the story. Jackie helped brighten up the story, give it more vibrant color and hope, and underline the goodness of her parents when they make bad decisions.

Overall I enjoyed the book.
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Format: Kindle Edition
From the description I was expecting this to be a love story, but it is not really that. This is more a family saga, following the family of Marcia Garcia through several decades of struggle and perseverance, as she tries to keep her family together. Much of the book focuses on Marcia's relationship with her children's father, Farouk Karam. The relationship is an odd one, it begins with love, but Farouk's parents disapprove, and what results is a coupling in which Farouk is mostly absent, but drifts in and out of Marcia's house, bed, and life. It was never entirely clear to me why Marcia continued to put up with Farouk. It is always clear that he loves her more than she him. There's some suggestion that the potions and teas of an Obeah woman keep Marcia attached to Farouk. In addition to Farouk, Marcia must deal with corrupt members of her own family, including a politically powerful but morally bankrupt uncle. Marcia winds up in the United States, falling prey to various of the injustices facing immigrants.

This book gives a vivid picture of life in rural Trinidad. I preferred the first two thirds of the book, that take place in Trinidad, rather than the section in the United States. The Trinidadian setting is one of the book's best parts. My favorite character was Farouk and Marcia's daughter, Jacqueline. She is the child with the most promise, and she becomes the de facto head of the family. She is also the one who feels the effects of her family's choices most deeply. When all was said and done I found myself still puzzling over Marcia and Farouk's relationship. If there are many definitions of love, than this is perhaps one.
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