'Til the Well Runs Dry

A Novel

Lauren Francis-Sharma

Henry Holt and Co.

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The New York Times Sunday Book Review Shortlist • Booklist Starred Review • O, The Oprah Magazine "10 Titles to Pick Up Now"

"As universally touching as it is original."—The New York Times

"[A] vivid debut."—People

"I was swept away.... like the first time I read my aunt’s novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God."—Lucy Ann Hurston

A glorious and moving multi-generational, multicultural saga that begins in the 1940s and sweeps through the 1960’s in Trinidad and the United States

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.

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Book Excerpts

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Chapter 1


The cardboard box trembled. The panicked squeals from inside it grew louder as I hurried through the overgrown grass.

The school day was half over. Children were noisily filling the road across from me, unbuttoning their stifling uniforms in the heat of the lunch hour, scrambling home. I’d long ago stopped wondering what they thought of me. I didn’t want to feel the pang of loss for that old, simpler life.

I crouched to peek inside the box.

A wild opossum, a manicou, clawed at the corners.

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Lauren Francis-Sharma interviewed on Fox Baltimore's Morning News

Lauren Francis-Sharma discusses her novel 'Til the Well Runs Dry on Fox Baltimore's Morning News.

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Lauren Francis-Sharma introduces 'Til the Well Runs Dry

Lauren Francis-Sharma introduces her novel 'Til the Well Runs Dry

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Lauren Francis-Sharma On Becoming a Writer

Lauren Francis-Sharma discusses how she became a writer and her chance meeting with Stephen King.

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Lauren Francis-Sharma on writing 'Til the Well Runs Dry

Lauren Francis-Sharma discusses her novel 'Til the Well Runs Dry.

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Praise for 'Til the Well Runs Dry

"Marcia’s story, told lovingly in this, Francis-Sharma’s debut novel, is as universally touching as it is original." --The New York Times (Sunday Book Review Shortlist)

"[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)

"You'll hear the calypso music in this vivid debut about a spirited seamstress and devoted mother with a family secret." --People

"A saga ripe with heartbreak and joy . . . Francis-Sharma delivers a rich and satisfying debut on the ties of family, love, and culture." --Kirkus Reviews

"Lauren Francis-Sharma takes us to the island of Trinidad, the ‘Land of the hummingbird,’ in a story that feels 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

"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 Land of Love and Drowning

"10 Titles to Pick Up Now" --O, The Oprah Magazine

"’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 language pierced 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

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

“‘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 Anne Hurston

"A first novel, yes. But balanced 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

"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 to 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 it is an extraordinary story about a misunderstood girl who knows how to stand her ground." --Victoria Brown, author of Minding Ben

"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

“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

Reviews from Goodreads


About the Author

Lauren Francis-Sharma

Lauren Francis-Sharma, a child of Trinidadian immigrants, was born in New York City and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature with a minor in African-American Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School. She lives in the Washington, D.C., area with her husband and two children. 'Til the Well Runs Dry is her first novel.

Lauren Francis-Sharma


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Available Formats and Book Details

'Til the Well Runs Dry
A Novel
Lauren Francis-Sharma


Henry Holt and Co.
April 2014
ISBN: 9780805098037
ISBN10: 0805098038
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches, 400 pages, Includes one black-and-white map

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Henry Holt and Co.
April 2014
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9780805098044
ISBN10: 0805098046
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches, 400 pages

From The Publisher

Henry Holt and Co.

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