Blog Tour for: Tea by the Sea by Donna Hemans

I am so happy to share with you a novel that I was offered as part of the blog tour for Donna Hemans wonderful new book: Tea by the Sea. This is a touching, memorable, and at times heart-breaking story about a young woman and the choices we make, as well as the choices that are sometimes made for us.

Here’s the overview from Over the River publicity:

A seventeen-year-old taken from her mother at birth, an Episcopal priest with a daughter whose face he cannot bear to see, a mother weary of searching for her lost child: Tea by the Sea is their story—that of a family uniting and unraveling. To find the daughter taken from her, Plum Valentine must find the child’s father who walked out of a hospital with
the day-old baby girl without explanation. Seventeen years later, weary of her unfruitful search, Plum sees an article in a community newspaper with a photo of the man for whom she has spent half her life searching. He has become an Episcopal priest. Her plan: confront him and walk away with the daughter he took from her. From Brooklyn to the island of Jamaica, Tea by the Sea traces Plum’s circuitous route to finding her daughter and
how Plum’s and the priest’s love came apart.

As I read this novel, my heart was breaking for poor Plum, a young girl who made some wrong choices but was made to pay for them in a most terrible way. She never gave up searching and hoping to be reunited with her daughter. At the same time, you could have a great bookclub discussion over Lenworth. His choices and decisions and the fact that he was pretty much purely motivated by selfish desires made him not very likable in my eyes. Even the fact that he took the baby for Plum’s “best interests” seems like one those things that people tell themselves they are doing to help others, but are only helping themselves.

Donna Hemans is a new author to me, but I’m so happy that I have enjoyed her work and will look for more by her!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jamaican-born Donna Hemans is the author of the novel River Woman, winner of the 2003-4 Towson University Prize for Literature. TEA BY THE SEA, for which she won the Lignum Vitae Una Marson Award for Adult Literature, is her second novel. Her short fiction has appeared in Vol. 1 Brooklyn, The Caribbean Writer, Crab Orchard Review, Witness, and the anthology Stories from Blue Latitudes: Caribbean Women Writers at Home and Abroad, among others. She received her undergraduate degree from Fordham University and an MFA from American University. She lives in Maryland.

But wait! There’s more!

There’s a giveaway with this blog tour! If you live in the US and/or Caribbean, you can enter to win a FREE COPY OF THE NOVEL and a BAG OF TEA THAT HAS BEEN CREATED ESPECIALLY FOR THIS BOOK LAUNCH. To enter, please write a comment on this blog post or post a comment under this post on Facebook. I will number the comments (starting with the blog post and then adding the Facebook posts) and then randomly choose a number via Random.org as the winner. Deadline to enter is 7/7!!

I want to win! I drink tea every day!! I’m hoping that one of my friends wins this so I can share it with them!

I hope that you enjoy this novel as much as I did. Thank you for having me as part of the tour and for my e-copy.

Audiobook Review: BROOKLYN by Colm Tóibín

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So I’ve joined a new book group. Generally I don’t have good luck with book clubs since folks find my enthusiasm for books “off-putting”. Many years ago I was asked to leave a book club (filled with many women I did not know – a large group) because apparently my love of books and ability to chat about them made other people feel “insecure” (got to be honest, when I got THAT phone call, I thought they were joking; I mean who gets kicked out of a book club for liking books?!).

Anyways – I now am in a book group at my work and I figure: these gals are stuck with me EVERY DAY! So hopefully I won’t get booted.

We read BROOKLYN by Colm Tóibín. I had read his NORA WEBSTER (Review), and even though I do find that most of the popular Irish writers are brilliant writers, I find them to a be a slightly miserable lot. I have to say Tóibín captures life in its simplest, most basic form, shining a light past the veneer of what one shows to the everyday world and highlighting the starkness of emotion that lies beneath.

I purchased this book from Audible to listen to in the car. Kirsten Potter did an amazing job with the voices and accents. It runs for about 7 and a half hours.

Here’s the description from Amazon:

It is Enniscorthy in the southeast of Ireland in the early 1950s. Eilis Lacey is one among many of her generation who cannot find work at home. Thus when a job is offered in America, it is clear to everyone that she must go. Eilis heads for unfamiliar Brooklyn to a crowded boarding house. Slowly, the pain of parting is buried beneath the rhythms of her new life – until she begins to realize that she has found a sort of happiness. As she falls in love, news comes from home that forces her back to Ireland, where she finds new possibilities that conflict deeply with the life she has left behind in Brooklyn.

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Eilis (which I’ve heard pronounced Ay-lis and Eye-lish depending on if it means “Alice” or “Elizabeth”) is a fairly typical young woman for her time. I have to say that her inability to really hold on to life and love or lust or feel joy or hate was muted for me.(apparently the movie is different). She seemed to just go back and forth wherever she was told to go and wasn’t a true player in her own future. I wanted to grab her by the shoulders and shake her and yell: “Go on out there and make your future! Don’t just accept what’s put in front of you!”.

Definitely lots of fodder for book group to discuss. And of course the writing is magnificent  in the depths within its simplicity (if you know what I mean).

If you’ve read BROOKLYN – or even seen the movie (which I have coming from Netflix) – let me know what you think!