The dress fits like a… well, like a glove.

Its seams hug your curves in the right places as the neckline draws the eye upward.  Its hem swishes around your legs and makes you feel fabulous. Whoever designed it had to be thinking of someone like you to wear it.

Or, as in the novel “’Til the Well Runs Dry” by Lauren Francis-Sharma, she had other things on her mind.

Keeping two boys fed and keeping up with her dressmaking clients.

At 16 years old, that was about all seamstress Marcia Garcia could handle. Her mother was dead, her father was gone, she was by herself and she didn’t need a man sticking his nose into her business.

But Farouk Karam was insistent. He came around, asking questions and fetching water for her. He wasn’t sure why he fell so hard—as a policeman, he could get any girl in Trinidad, but he wanted Marcia. He wanted her enough that he visited the obeah woman for some special tea, guaranteed for love.

He made Marcia laugh. He made her feel special. He was there for her when the boys disappeared, and he was there a year later when their daughter was born, but he left soon afterward because there was something about those boys that just didn’t add up.

Eight years after Farouk left, he still hadn’t actually gone. World War II was over, Trinidad was in the midst of political unrest, he was the father of two more children—Jacqueline and Wesley—and there was another on its way. Farouk came when he needed Marcia, when another baby was born, to leave money, or because he could.

And that situation might’ve continued forever, if it wasn’t for Farouk’s position on the force. It had become a job that made him uncomfortable, and there was nothing he could do about it. He couldn’t talk to his parents; they shunned him when he fell in love with Marcia. He couldn’t take the issue to his supervisor; his supervisor was part of the problem. And he couldn’t go to Marcia. She wasn’t raising his children right, and the memory of those boys festered in his mind…

The Islands are calling you this summer. Sand, seas, sunshine—and plenty of drama, when you take “’Til the Well Runs Dry” with you.

But drama is only half of the appeal.

Because author Lauren Francis-Sharma (herself the child of Trinidadian immigrants) writes with her characters’ natural patois, we get a definite sense of place and time for this story. After awhile, it can seem almost as if you actually hear their voices, which makes them come alive. Yes, this book is a bit overdone—the plotline spun off too much for me—but the way in which its written makes that forgivable.

(“Til the Well Runs Dry” by Lauren Francis-Sharma, c.2014, Henry Holt & Company, $27/$31 Canada, 385 pages.)


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