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The House of Plain Truth: A Novel by Donna Hemans

The House of Plain Truth: A Novel by Donna Hemans

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Fiction - Literary - Sagas


A lyrical, lush, evocative story about a fractured Jamaican family and a daughter determined to reclaim her home.

With news of her father’s passing, Pearline abruptly leaves her daughter and grandchildren behind in Brooklyn to return to her childhood home in Jamaica. But Pearline isn’t prepared for her father’s puzzling deathbed wish that she find her siblings―whom she hasn’t seen in 60 years―and discover the secret that tore her family apart.

Moving through time and place, from Cuba to Montego Bay and from Brooklyn to Havana, The House of Plain Truth traces Pearline’s reconciliation of what she thought she knew about her family and the truth of their origin.

Inspired by the author's own family story, this delicate, incisive novel explores the divided loyalties within a family, the true meaning of home, and what one woman must sacrifice to finally get what she wants.

Donna Hemans is the author of two previous novels, River Woman and Tea By the Sea, which won the Lignum Vitae Una Marson Award. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in Electric LiteratureMs. Magazine, and Crab Orchard Review, among others. She is also the owner of DC Writers Room, a co-working studio for writers based in Washington, DC. Born in Jamaica, she lives in Maryland, and received her undergraduate degree in English and Media Studies from Fordham University and an MFA from American University.

"A literary exploration of grief [and] family schisms. Fractured memories and dreams of the past infuse this unassuming story with a rich and elusive history spanning three countries, and they depict a family that's more orchard than tree. The novel's sedate pacing, which evokes rocking-chair musings on mortality and responsibility, brings a welcome reprieve from stories laden with plot twists and action for the sake of it. Hemans' thoughtful family tale is a balm for readers."
--Kirkus Reviews

"Emotionally honest, The House of Plain Truth is ripe with secrets and sacrifice. Teeming with family drama, and lush descriptions that leapt off the page and rooted me in place. Hemans' writing is lyrical and her characters stayed with me long after the book was over."
--Sadeqa Johnson, author of The House of Eve

"Shifting ideas of home, family and culture collide in this evocative tale of memory and reconciliation. The House of Plain Truth meanders through the Jamaican countryside and one family's troubles in a way that feels unique yet universal in its exploration of migration, broken promises and forgiveness."
--Charmaine Wilkerson, author of Black Cake

"In this book, set primarily in her native Jamaica, Donna Hemans reminds us what a debt the world owes Caribbean people--those who migrate, as well as those who remain to buttress the families left behind. Ours is a story of faith, risk, estrangement, and ultimately, longing, which Hemans evokes through characters who are unforgettable precisely because we seem to be remembering them. Hemans' great triumph is how her prose witnesses history with dignified tenderness and with a clarity which never gets in the reader's way or prescribes what we should feel about the plain truth."
--Celeste Mohammed, author of OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature winner Pleasantview

"The House of Plain Truth is a rich and layered novel. It's not only a compelling family mystery and a moving story of generational healing and reconciliation, but also a profound portrait of the emotional aftermath of voluntary and forced migration. An extraordinary achievement."
--Maisy Card, author of These Ghosts Are Family

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