If you have read my first two novels, you are familiar with Nara Blake, the protagonist in both The Gate House and Lydia’s Story.
In my new novel, due out this summer, we go back to Nara’s experiences in the fictional Caribbean nation of Saint Clare. In a sense, since the other books came out first, Hotel Saint Clare is Nara’s memories of her life on the islands before she moved to England.
In Hotel Saint Clare, Nara insists that she will never leave the islands, that she is tied there through emotional and spiritual bonds, and could never live anywhere else. But she does leave. In The Gate House and Lydia’s Story we see how she broke that promise when her father became ill and they moved to England, where she discovered a connection to a new place through her father’s side of the family.
It reminds me of the saying, “Never say never.” As soon as I make a commitment to myself that I will never do something, or never do it again, I realize that that is just what I need to do now. More than once during my career as a high school teacher, I moved temporarily to another type of work and swore I would not go back to teaching, but I did, and it wasn’t just for financial reasons. I thought I would not get married again, but I did. I thought my move to Costa Rica was a permanent one, but after seven years, here I am in Pennsylvania.
Maybe Nara and I have both learned that life has a way of opening and closing doors in unexpected ways. Nara, the girl of the islands, ends up in England. And I could end up where I started — in the Midwest. Never say never.
Because everyone likes to eat, here is a link to a recipe for “rice and beans,” Caribbean-style. This is traditional on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, but I think the people of Saint Clare would enjoy it, too.