Lauren Francis-Sharma's debut novel, 'Til the Well Runs Dry, is gripping not only because of its pace but also due to her deft handling of universal themes that would overwhelm a lesser novelist.
Marcia Garcia ("Mar-see-ah Gar-see-ah") is a teenaged seamstress, a poor, lonely girl in a small Trinidadian seaside town. One day she encounters Farouk Karam, an Indian police officer of good breeding, who immediately falls for and pursues her. His attention begets much: romance, love, an outpouring of secrets, abandonment, shame, crime and four children.
The reader witnesses the emergence and evolution of the Garcia-Karam family, starting with the parents meeting in the 1940s and following them through the next two decades. As a number of narrators carries the story through a series of dramatic yet believable events, the reader is forced to consider the novel's central theme: free will versus fate. Did Farouk's compact with Tanty Gertrude, an old black magic practitioner, make Marcia fall in love with him, or would that have happened on its own? Was it fate that compelled Farouk to commit a fatal crime, or his own instincts?
Stemming from questions of free will is an examination of freedom. Francis-Sharma explores this concept in a variety of ways: the informal yet nearly iron-clad grip Farouk has on Marcia's heart; to the biological and unfailing commitment she has to her children, even as they grow and rebel; to the literal chains an American couple lashes onto the door where they house Marcia, their hired seamstress. The author makes the reader question the nature of freedom, its costs and its value. In doing so, she elevates this novel from an emotional family drama into one that examines and seems to understand the complexity of filial relationships.
This novel would not be the same with Marcia, the fiery and complicated heroine who sustains and unites her family. She is flawed, certainly, unable to free herself from Farouk's grasp and, as a result of major loss as a young woman, often skeptical and intentionally off-putting. But despite her sharp words and at-times sour attitude, Marcia is a source of strength and comfort for her family. I emulated that trio of traits in this recipe for baked chili-lime chips.
Yields several snack-sized portions
- 3 russet potatoes
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Half a lime
- 1/4 teaspoon red chili powder
- sea salt, to taste
Position rack in middle and preheat oven to 375ºF.
Wash and peel three potatoes. Using a mandoline, slice potatoes to 1/8-inch thickness.
Brush olive oil onto baking sheets and lay potato slices in a single layer, not touching. Lightly tops of potato slices with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until mostly brown, turning baking sheets halfway through.
Remove baked chips to paper towel-lined dish to drain, then toss with juice from half a lime and 1/4 teaspoon red chili powder while still hot. Allow chips to cool, then serve.
Source: I received a free advanced reading copy of this book through Netgalley.