‘Til The Well Runs Dry

‘Til The Well Runs Dry

A Novel by Lauren Francis-Sharma

Short-Listed for William Saroyan International Prize for Writing
Black Caucus of the American Library Association 2015 Honor for Fiction


Lauren Francis-Sharma’s ‘Til the Well Runs Dry opens in a seaside village in the north of Trinidad where young Marcia Garcia, a gifted and smart-mouthed 16-year-old seamstress, lives alone, raising two small boys and guarding a family secret. When she meets Farouk Karam, an ambitious young policeman (so taken with Marcia that he elicits the help of a tea-brewing obeah woman to guarantee her ardor), the risks and rewards in Marcia’s life amplify forever.

On an island rich with laughter, Calypso, Carnival, cricket, beaches and salty air, sweet fruits and spicy stews, the novel follows Marcia and Farouk from their amusing and passionate courtship through personal and historical events that threaten Marcia’s secret, entangle the couple and their children in a scandal, and endanger the future for all of them.

‘Til the Well Runs Dry tells the twinned stories of a spirited woman’s love for one man and her bottomless devotion to her children. For readers who cherish the previously untold stories of women’s lives, here is a story of grit and imperfection and love that has not been told before.

Praise and Reviews

“Francis-Sharma’s debut novel, is as universally touching as it is original.”
New York Times Book Review, June 20, 2014

“Haunting, emotion-laden scenes are rich with secrets and revelations. There is much to discover about this family and its matriarch. And there is much to discover about her homeland and its residents. But, most of all, there is much to discover about secrets that require sacrifice and the fight for survival.”
USA TODAY, May, 2014

“This expansive first novel opens in Trinidad in 1943, when a fiery 16-year old becomes involved with a seductive but unreliable police officer; their relationship sets off a chain of events that brings a family’s dirty laundry into public view.”
–10 Titles to Pick Up Now! O, The Oprah Magazine, May, 2014

“You’ll hear the calypso music in this vivid debut about a spirited seamstress and devoted mother with a family secret.”
–PEOPLE Magazine, May 19, 2014

“When Lauren Francis-Sharma visited her grandmother’s birthplace, Blanchisseuse — a tiny beach hamlet perched on the windward side of Trinidad’s northern mountains — she was stunned by the beauty of the place, and she got a crazy idea. That idea became ‘Til the Well Runs Dry (Henry Holt), a savory, sensuous, and seductive debut novel steeped in the full and pungent flavor of life on the island, and an homage loosely based on her grandmother’s story.”
–ELLE Magazine, May, 2014

“Love dominates every aspect of this debut novel….But Francis-Sharma’s greatest strength is the way she brings to life her family’s native Trinidad, an island ‘rich with calypso and carnival’.”
–MORE Magazine, 7 Books That Celebrate Mom

“Francis-Sharma’s debut draws you in, and the feelings it evokes stay with you long after you put it down.”
–bookreporter.com, April, 2014

“Lauren Francis-Sharma turns the family drama on its ear with this lush, elegant epic. The writer, a former attorney, can at last rest her briefcase–she has presented all the evidence she is a voice that should be around for some time.”
–ESSENCE Magazine, June, 2014

“The story was inspired by Francis-Sharma’s desire to know more about her family’s roots in Trinidad, and its immigration to New York; she effectively evokes that longing to belong, to live a good life, both in the tiny villages in sunny, colorful Trinidad, and in the bustling yet impersonal cacophony of New York.”
–historicalnovelsociety.com

“In her debut novel,’Til the Well Runs Dry (Henry Holt), Lauren Francis-Sharma tells the story of a young Trinidadian woman who finds love in an unlikely suitor. As the couple goes through courtship and eventually enters a serious relationship, secrets are unveiled and transgressions arise, all working to sever their seemingly unbreakable tie.”
–EBONY Magazine, May, 2014

“Infused with the sounds, scents and spells of Trinidad, this debut novel is an artfully spun love story, a multilayered coming-of-age tale, a treatise on devotion, ambition, survival and a mother’s love. Marcia Garcia is a gifted seamstress who creates beauty with her needle, yet struggles to bring together the pieces of her life. Read it, weep – and rejoice.”
–FAMILY CIRCLE Magazine, May, 2014

“In her first published novel, Francis-Sharma satisfyingly embraces the rich and rhythmic language of Trinidad to tell the story of one woman’s strength of spirit, love and devotion for her husband and children and her experiences as an immigrant that makes for a gratifying and memorable read.”
–THE NETWORK JOURNAL, May, 2014

“A family tale of love, loss and triumph, Lauren Francis-Sharma’s debut novel, ‘Til The Well Runs Dry, is a multigenerational saga that has already earned loads of acclaim for its heartfelt, poetic approach to storytelling. Focusing on the life and love of Marcia Garcia, a 16-yearold girl living in a village in north Trinidad, the story weaves a complicated tale that should leave readers wanting more.”
–UPSCALE Magazine, May, 2014

“Stretching all the way from a tiny seaside village in Trinidad to the shores of America, this multi-generational saga blends issues of class, race and gender with notions of love, deception and the power of decision.”
–UPTOWN Magazine, May, 2014

“Francis-Sharma’s debut novel demonstrates a knack for enchanting setting and engrossing, imperfect characters…. Francis-Sharma keeps the mystery mesmerizing and the fascinating personalities on the rails.”
–bustle.com

“First time novelist Lauren Francis-Sharma is blasting onto the literary scene with an exquisitely written story set in 1940s Trinidad. You can almost smell the salt water around the main character, 16 year-old Marcia, as she struggles to get by as a seamstress and caretaker to two children. Love suddenly enters her life in the form of Farouk Karam, but deep secrets threaten their relationship from the beginning. The author’s incredible talents make her more than one to watch. She’s one to find.”
–JUICY Magazine, Paula’s Picks, May, 2014

“Lauren Francis-Sharma’s debut novel ‘Til the Well Runs Dry is a richly woven tale about family, love and sacrifice. Set mostly in the lush environment of Trinidad in the World War II era, the story’s protagonist Marcia Garcia was inspired by Francis-Sharma’s grandmother….The novel is full of dramatic moments and page-turning events dealing with death and love and rage and bottomless sorrow. But Francis-Sharma deftly tells this story with grace and confidence. There is a more literary aspect to the novel in the way that issues of race, class, mental health, gender dynamics and other multi-faceted topics are addressed. It’s a thought-provoking novel that would make for a good book club selection.”
–CLUTCH Magazine, April, 2014

“From a New York City-born daughter of Trinidadian immigrants, a debut novel set on the latter island. Francis-Sharma’s story begins in a seaside village in the north of Trinidad in 1943, where 16-year-old smart-alec seamstress Marcia Garcia is raising two small boys and hiding a secret. Everything changes when the boys disappear, she meets a young cop and they fall madly in love. Along the way she moves to New York, encountering new risks and rewards.”
–NEW YORK POST, One of the “Must Read Books” for Week of April 20th.

“This is an incredible novel.”
imperfecthappiness.org, May, 2014

‘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 a language pieced 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

“In her debut novel, Lauren Francis-Sharma takes us to the island of Trinidad, the “Land of the Humming Bird,” in a story that feels more 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

“A first novel…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

“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

“[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)

“From the Caribbean island of Trinidad comes a saga ripe with heartbreak and joy. Sharma delivers a rich and satisfying debut on the ties of family, love and culture—and how those ties are sometimes better when broken.”
Kirkus Review

“‘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 Ann Hurston

“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

“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

“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 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 is an extraordinary story about a misunderstood girl who knows how to stand her ground.”
–Victoria Brown, author of Minding Ben

“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 How to Escape from a Leper Colony and Land of Love and Drowning

Lauren Francis-Sharma has expertly stitched a vibrant, kaleidoscopic garment, rich with mother-love, spiced curry, frenzied passion, bitter teas and Obeah magic. Its scent slips under your skin, is breathed into your lungs, until, in a rush of blood, it reaches your heart. I was gently guided, then yanked into the lush, dangerous world of old Trinidad, turning and spinning—crashing through doorways, confronted by sinister lies, bone-crushing loss, opulence, poverty, despair and ultimately triumph. Taken through the salt air and red roads of Blanchisseuse, to New York streets–being surprised again and again. ‘Till the Well Runs Dry reveals delicately woven, yet explosive truths, that in understanding, allow us to see the world differently.
–Cynthia Bond, author of New York Times bestseller Ruby

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

The nearly 400-page book is a sweeping epic that spans generations and cultures, encompassing a woman’s love for a man and a mother’s love for her children. It’s also a love letter to Trinidad, with its salty sea air, Carnival and calypso beats, sweet fruits and spicy stews, and games of cricket.
–The Baltimore Sun