The House Of Plain Truth

The House Of Plain Truth

Donna Hemans

A novel of fractured family and the search to protect—or discard—what unites them.


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Set in Brooklyn, Cuba, and mostly Jamaica, The House of Plain Truth traces one older woman's decision to pursue and hold onto what has deep meaning to her—in her blood and in her bones. What does it look like to uphold the wishes of those who have departed the world and why is it that the most unlikely characters crystallize what matters most? 

When Pearline leaves her life in Brooklyn and returns to her childhood home of Jamaica to care for her dying father, Rupert, she leaves her grown daughter to cope, overwhelmed, with her granddaughter back in Brooklyn. Yet Pearline feels called to return to her childhood home and soon dives deep into her family of origin. 

Ostracized by her sisters for moving to America decades earlier and only coming "home" due to their father's imminent passing, Pearline must assert her own familial identity as she strives to hold onto the family's home over her sisters' objections. Always lurking in the back of Pearline's mind is her family's traumatic past in Cuba, where Rupert had sought a better life and where four of Pearline's siblings remained when the rest of the family left for Jamaica, including one who was lost for good. 

In lush, lyrical prose inspired by the author's own family story, this novel explores the divided loyalties within a family, the true meaning of home, and what one woman has to sacrifice to get what she ultimately wants.

The House Of Plain Truth

Donna Hemans

What people are saying...

“In this book, set primarily in her native Jamaica, Donna Hemans reminds us what a debt the world owes Caribbean people— those who migrate, as well as those who remain to buttress the families left behind. Ours is a story of faith, risk, estrangement, and ultimately, longing, which Hemans evokes through characters who are unforgettable precisely because we seem to be remembering them. Hemans’ great triumph is how her prose witnesses history with dignified tenderness and with a clarity which never gets in the reader’s way or prescribes what we should feel about the plain truth.”

Celeste Mohammed

author of OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature winner Pleasantview 

Why Zibby Loves It…

Donna’s second novel, Tea by the Sea, had me hooked on her lyrical, original writing style. I was so excited to have the opportunity to publish her next book, which is even better. Donna’s lush descriptions of place and sensitive depictions of the interior lives of women combine to produce the most compelling evocative literature. I can’t thank her enough for taking me on this trip to Jamaica.