When she ran away from her childhood home in Guyana, Rika swore that she would never return. Cut off from her family, she has fought hard to make a life for herself and daughter, Inky, in London.
Now, over thirty years later, Rika's cantankerous, wheelchair-bound mother, Dorothea, arrives in London. But as old wounds re-open, Dorothea and Rika are further apart than ever.
Inky soon learns that her grandmother is sitting on a small fortune. As she uncovers the secrets of the past one by one, she unravels the tragedy that tore her mother and grandmother apart. But nothing can prepare her, or Rika, for Dorothea's final, unexpected revelation.
An epic, mesmerizing tale of tragic loss, the strength of words left unspoken, and the redeeming power of love.
Praise for Sharon Maas...
'A terrific writer.' Barbara Erskine
'An authentic reflection of a world full of sadness, joy and surprise.' The Observer
'A big book, big themes, an exotic background and characters that will live with you forever.' Katie Fforde
'Beautifully and cleverly written. A wondrous, spellbinding story which grips you from the first to the last page... I can't recall when I last enjoyed a book so much.'Lesley Pearse
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Small Fortune of Dorothea Q is the fourth original novel by Guyanese-born author, Sharon Maas. When Dorothea Quint, the grandmother from Guyana that she has never met, comes to London to stay, Inky Temple is intrigued as to the cause of the thirty-year estrangement that has existed between her mum, Rika, and Dorothea. But Rika is tight-lipped, and Dorothea is less than forthcoming. Stubborn and cantankerous, Dorothea, with a crafty glint in her eye, shows Inky the family heirloom, an old Guyanese stamp that she claims is “worth a small fortune”. A sceptical Inky does some research and is surprised about the value of this dirty-looking scrap: “And I felt it, gnawing at my insides like a virus, the little rodent of greed”. Tasked with cooking for Dorothea (her mum being a hopeless cook), Inky discovers a thriving Guyanese community right there in London, and while the church services are a bit overwhelming, she finds herself completely swept away by the community’s friendliness and by all this delicious Guyanese food. “A proper Guyanese! She eats everything but rope, soap and iron!” Maas uses three narratives to tell her tale: the narrative from Dorothea’s point of view describes events during the nineteen-thirties, forties and fifties; the sixties are told from Rika’s perspective; and Inky’s first person narrative relates the events at the beginning of the twenty-first century, the noughties. Maas gives the reader an interesting cast of characters, characters with very human flaws, who develop and mature so that we slowly learn how an unhappy teenaged Dorothea becomes a fiery activist for women’s rights, how budding novelist Rika ended up rejecting all things Guyanese to become a vegetarian TV script writer, and finally, exactly why Rika has refused all contact with her mother for over thirty years. This novel, with a few twists and surprises, examines the (sometimes tragic) effects of powerful emotions on lives: blame, guilt, grief, resentment, fear of loving, contrition, pride, and forgiveness are all very much part of the story. As are greed and the sometimes insane values we assign to material things by virtue of their rarity: “’When you think about it, Inky,’ she said to me, ‘All it is, is a scrap of paper. A tiny little scrap of paper any normal person would chuck in the rubbish. Isn’t it crazy, that people run around like headless chickens over a scrap of paper? Isn’t it fascinating, the way we fixate on a thing, and out of our own minds, out of desire, instil it with value?’” While this is fiction, it is apparent from the authentic feel of this wonderful tale that Maas has drawn on her own experiences, her Guyanese heritage, and her family history. Readers who enjoy this novel will be pleased to know that there is a companion volume, The Secret Life of Winnie Cox, which expands on the life of one of the more endearing characters of this novel, Ma Quint. This is another superb offering from this talented author.