Tea by the Sea is the newest novel by Donna Hemans.
The story begins after the exhausting delivery of seventeen year old Plum, and twenty-five year old Lenworths baby daughter. Plum is sent to Jamaica by her parents to finished high school without distractions. Her budding relationship with her tutor led to the opposite.
While Plum is asleep, Lenworth takes off with the baby girl, travelling across Montego Bay to a house where he knows Plum won't find. Lenworth believes by taking their baby, he is doing Plum a favour, allowing her to live her young life without being restrained by parenthood.
Plum awakes and begins her frantic search for her daughter. Devastated and betrayed by the man she loved, Plum eventually leaves Jamaica and goes home to her parents in Brooklyn. Depressed and lost, Plum does her best to adjust to her new life, forgetting all that is happened.
The story spans over a seventeen year period, as Plum and Lenworth move on with life but are still connected by Opal, their daughter. Plum never gives up her searching, hiring a private investigator, taking multiple trips back to Jamaica and following any lead that might return her long lost daughter.
The novel depicts themes of love, family, displacement and motherhood. Plum had hardly every laid eyes on Opal, yet she never gave up the search. She eventually marries and has twin girls. We see her trauma through the attachment she has to her children, never wanting them out of her sight.
Donna Hemans creates a suspenseful atmosphere at times as we follow Plum on her journey. Some moments it seems like she'll finally reunite with her daughter, only for us to find out she's just months too late. These moments get us so close to satisfaction only for it to be ripped away. As a reader, I was able to put myself in Plums shoes and feel the despair and disappoint she felt.
The novel is overall a beautiful story that gives us a bit of everything. I personally wasn't a fan of the ending as it didn't quite satisfy my vision for the characters. I hope this might have been intentional and leaves room for a sequel. I think it'd be interesting to see how life carries on for Plum, Lenworth and Opal.
My rating: ★★★★★