Sneak Peek: Somerset Grove, A Novel by Dionne Peart

Three generations of the women in the Wright family all dream of leaving their home in a small Jamaican town, but each woman encounters obstacles that keep her from living the life she wants.

Angelique, strong-willed and adventurous, chooses between her daughter and opportunity as she contemplates leaving her behind to move to Canada. After experiencing heartbreak, proud matriarch Ruby is determined to see that no one ever has a reason to look down on her or her family, even if it means alienating the ones she loves. Granddaughter Carmen is torn between her feelings of resentment and longing, as she strives to be independent while trying to build a relationship with her distant mother.

Traveling between the tropical heat of the fictional town of Somerset Grove, Jamaica and the cold promise of Canada, the women struggle to resolve the conflicts within themselves and between each other.

Excerpts From Chapter 2


SPRING, 1949

The early morning light filtered in through the yellow lace curtains. Ruby lay in bed still wearing the dress that she’d had on from three days ago. It was thoroughly wrinkled now, showing no signs of the crisp starchiness that she had carefully pressed into it when she had first put it on. The other dresses she owned had been neatly packed into the worn suitcase her mother had borrowed from her friend, Lily.

Lily had been more than happy to part with her only luggage so that her goddaughter could pack all of her things to join her new husband in England though she couldn’t figure out for the life of her why the girl’s husband never sent money so that his bride could buy a trunk of her own.

Four days earlier, Ruby had said her goodbyes to one of her two best friends. Anne had come over before Ruby was to depart on the ship in two days. Though she was sad that she may never see her friends again, Ruby enjoyed seeing what she thought was envy flickering in her friend’s eyes as she told her about her anticipated journey to join Winston. Her friend had listened with a half-hearted smile on her face as Ruby reminisced about how Winston had swept her off her feet, promising to take her away from the little two-room house with the outhouse in back that she shared with her mother. Their new home in England, Winston told her, had running water and a beautiful indoor kitchen, so she wouldn’t have to prepare their meals in a cook shed anymore. And with the money he would save working as a mechanic, there would be enough to send her to school to become a nurse or teacher if she wanted. Ruby was disappointed that Anne’s sister, Cynthia, hadn’t come to see her off, but didn’t think anything of it when Anne told her that Cynthia had gone to visit family. She was sure Cynthia would stop by before she left, maybe even ride with her to the ship’s dock.

After losing her father to an unexplained illness five years ago, and then losing their family home when they couldn’t pay her father’s debts, it felt like life was turning around for 18-year-old Ruby.

Ruby’s mother, Ingrid, came into the bedroom the two women had shared since they moved into the house and told the girls it was time for Anne to leave. Ruby missed the grave look on Ingrid’s face as she was hugging Anne goodbye before turning back to finish her packing.

“There wasn’t anything at the post office for you,” Ingrid said to Ruby’s back.

Ruby stopped packing, but didn’t turn around. “It’s fine. The mail must be delayed, that’s all.”

“You don’t even know where you’re supposed to be going when you get there. Did he tell you when he was picking you up from the port? Did he even tell you the address where you’re supposed to be living?” Ingrid fired off questions as she watched Ruby moving about the room looking for things to pack and avoiding eye contact.


Three days ago, Ruby received news about her husband, but it was not what she had anticipated. When Winston hadn’t sent the money to pay for her fare, Ruby walked to her godmother’s house to see if she could borrow the money from her and her husband. They reluctantly parted with their little savings with the assurance that Ruby would send it all back just as soon as she received it from Winston. When she reached home, she informed her mother that there was no need to worry about the fare now.

“I’m just waiting for the sponsorship papers. If you can take me to pay for my fare now, I should have everything together by the time I’m ready to leave,” Ruby said.

It broke Ingrid’s heart to tell her daughter what she had learned that day. Ingrid had been at the post office when the twins’ neighbor had come in complaining about Jamaica’s rough roads as he picked up his mail. He grumbled on about the cost to repair his car’s axle, which was damaged during the drive to Palisadoes airport to drop off one of the twins who was going to England.

Ruby watched her mother’s lips moving, but couldn’t comprehend the words coming out of her mouth. “Cynthia…England…Winston.”

About the Author

Born in England to Jamaican parents, Dionne Peart grew up in Canada and later moved to the U.S.  Her debut novel, Somerset Grove, was inspired by the many stories of Caribbean transplants she grew up with while living in Winnipeg.  When she isn’t writing, Dionne loves to read stories that explore another time, place and culture.

Dionne currently resides in Washington, D.C. where she practices law and is working on her second novel.
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