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River Woman

A Novel

Donna Hemans


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As she washes her laundry in the Rio Minho, Kelithe is startled from her daydreams by women's screams. It is not until she sees a small body in the shallow water that she realizes what has happened. Her young son has drowned. The Women of Standfast, Jamaica, whisper that she let Timothy die so that she could seize her chance to join her mother in America. Numb with grief, Kelithe lacks the strength to confront them. She can only wait for the funeral. And for her mother to come stand by her at last.
What really happened at the river? It is a question Kelithe's mother cannot ask and an accusation Kelithe will not answer. And it lies at the heart of this shattering novel of promises kept and broken. In spare prose, Donna Hemans lays bare the human heart, exploring the unyielding bonds joining mother and child and the many facets of truth.

Praise For River Woman: A Novel

The New York Times Book Review A graceful, absorbing first novel.

Booklist A powerful look at guilt, betrayal, stunted ambition, and tortured maternal instincts.

Jewell Parker Rhodes Author of Douglass' Women A lovely and lyrical debut, filled with insight and honesty. Donna Hemans is a splendid writer.

Washington Square Press, 9780743410403, 256pp.

Publication Date: January 1, 2003

About the Author

Donna Hemans was born in Jamaica. She earned an undergraduate degree in English and journalism from Fordham University and an M.F.A. from American University. She lives in Maryland.