Peter Ducksworth, a Trinidadian widower of English ancestry, retires to Barbados, believing he will find an earthly paradise there. He decides to divide his land among his three daughters while he is alive, his intention not unlike that of King Lear, who hoped "That future strife/May be prevented now". But Lear made the fatal mistake of confusing flattery with love, and so does Ducksworth. Feeling snubbed by his youngest daughter, Ducksworth decides that only after he dies will she receive her portion of the land.
Tracing the four days from the moment she gets the call that every immigrant fears to the burial of her mother, Elizabeth Nunez tells the haunting story of her lifelong struggle to cope with the consequences of the 'sterner stuff' of her parents' ambitions for their children and her mother's seemingly unbreakable conviction that displays of affection are not for everyday use. But Nunez sympathizes with her parents.
Trinidad-born Justin Peters is a Harvard-educated literature professor, whose focus on the works of "Dead White Men" receives little professional respect at the public Brooklyn college where he teaches. But whatever troubles he might have at work are eclipsed when he realizes his wife, Sally, is no longer certain about their life together.
The award-winning author of Prosperos Daughter has written a novel more intimate than her usual big-picture work; this moving exploration of immigrant identity has a protagonist caught between race, class, and a mother's love.
Peter Gardner, a white scientist from England, is exiled after performing dangerous experiments on patients. He flees with his beautiful young daughter, Virginia, to the Caribbean, where he raises her in isolation among few people - all natives. One of those natives is Carlos, a young boy of mixed race. Virginia and Carlos develop a forbidden friendship, which later blooms into a love that binds them above all cultural, racial, and paternal resistance. This is a touching love story and a haunting coming-of-age tale.