From the talented author of The Serpent's Gift, which The Washington Post called "beautifully crafted and profoundly insightful...staggeringly accomplished," comes a richly textured novel about two estranged African-American sisters who reunite in a search to understand their father and their family history.
A note in the mail announcing, "He's been alive. He died last week," summons painter Sunday Owens from Chicago to her native town. It has been five years since she has been back to see her sister, Delta, who has never left Salt County, where the local river routinely overflows its banks, taking bits and pieces of people's lives when the waters recede. But more draws her to their childhood home than a desire for reconciliation with Delta; Sunday returns to claim her story and to unearth the secrets that have shaped her since her father, Mercury, left his shoes by the river and disappeared before she was born.
Now nearing midlife, with their troubled mother and matriarchal grandmother, Nana, both buried, Sunday and Delta learn that Mercury did not commit suicide as believed; he had lived another life -- as someone other than their father. Looking for clues to their father's past, they comb through the accumulated mementos of their old house, trade stories and childhood memories, and talk to the few living Bread Ladies, a group of Nana's friends who convened weekly to gossip, to comfort, and to make bread. A new portrait of the Owens family -- and their town -- gradually emerges as Sunday and Delta grapple with why their father chose to abandon them. Meanwhile, they confront their own personal struggles and work to repair the tattered bonds of sisterhood.
A novel about how family can both heal and hurt, about how the past reaches out for you no matter where you are, Water Marked resonates with mesmerizing language and deep emotion. A true storyteller, Helen Elaine Lee here elegantly confirms the extraordinary promise of The Serpent's Gift.
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