Paradise Lost: three women’s lives on the fringes of paradise

Sonya Lalli in The f Word:

Here-Comes-The-Sun-small-_9781786071248-e1490894359304Despite its optimistic title and bright, bold cover, Here Comes the Sun is not the classic beach read it might appear at first glance. The cheerful package stands in stark contrast to the novel’s sobering depictions of women struggling to forge their own paths in a Jamaican village. Born and raised in Jamaica, debut novelist Nicole Dennis-Benn writes with incredible authenticity – whether it’s capturing the local dialect, or illustrating the shocking disparities in wealth between tourists at the island’s lavish resorts, and the Jamaicans who live on its edges. In Here Comes the Sun, it’s the impoverished fishing village of River Bank, on the outskirts of Montego Bay. Dennis-Benn’s novel focuses on sisters Margot and Thandi, and their mother Delores. Although they’re not always likeable – or their choices relatable – the moral complexities and individual burdens of these characters have us invested from the get-go.

Thirty-year-old Margot has a much-coveted job working at the front desk of a luxury resort in Montego Bay. Ambitious to a fault, she also sells sex to wealthy guests, balancing this secret life with her affairs with the resort’s married owner, Alfonso, and Verdane, the River Bank woman she has loved since she was a girl. She struggles to keep her blossoming relationship with Verdane in the shadows, having been brought up in a society where homosexuality is not just frowned upon, but downright dangerous. It’s not unusual for Verdane, who was outed to her community as a young age, to face physical threats or find dead dogs on her doorstep.

More here.