Men will want you like they want a glass of rum…One man will love you. But you won’t love him. You will destroy his life. The one you love will break your heart in two.
So says the soothsayer, when predicting young Celia’s future. Raised in the tropics of Tobago by an aunt she loves and an uncle she fears, Celia has never felt that she belonged. When her uncle–a man the neighbors call Allah because he thinks himself mightier than God–does something unforgivable, Celia escapes to the bustling capital city.
There she quickly embraces her burgeoning independence, but her search for a place to call home is soon complicated by an affectionate friendship with William, a thoughtful gardener, and a strong sexual tension with her employer. All too quickly, Celia finds herself fulfilling the soothsayer’s predictions and living a life of tangled desperation–trapped between the man who offers her passion and the one who offers his heart.
"The Caribbean's tropical sights and smells permeate Smyth's moving debut novel, but all is not paradise…Smyth paints a vivid portrait of a naive young girl who learns some hard truths about herself and her family, but though Celia's story is not always happy, it's arresting and powerful, a shining testament to human resilience.“
—The Miami Herald
"Like Alice Walker, Smyth vividly and empathetically re-creates the gender and racial tensions in a culture’s past, making them newly relevant. Smyth is so attuned to the texture and flavor of Caribbean life, and she mimics the island patois so well.”
“[An] enchanting debut….Smyth’s deftly captured tropical landscape and superstitions….keep things interesting.”
"A remarkably assured debut, written in a controlled yet vibrant and beautiful prose that makes as much of the heart-stopping landscape of Trinidad as it does the cast of characters who inhabit the novel. A worthy relative of Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea."
– Mslexia magazine
“Smyth writes entrancingly on tropical heat and light, indolence, vengeance and desire.”
– The Guardian
“Smyth is Irish-Trinidadian, and her writing is as lushly beautiful as the landscape she describes - it's the kind of novel that leaves your head filled with gorgeous pictures.”
– Times (London)
Certain novels are alive with color. Written in lush, lyrical language evocative of its tropical setting, Amanda Smyth's Lime Tree Can’t Bear Orange is awash with bougainvillea, parakeets, blue crabs, manicous, rum, coconuts and obeah folk magic...Smyth's debut is an absorbing and morally complex read with a bittersweet twist at the end.
– Financial Times
“A captivating read.”
– Irish Times
“Compelling…it sings with life, texture, and verve.”
— Daily Mail
“[An] engaging debut…the prose sways along through an exotic landscape of swamp crabs, magic charms, breadfruit trees, Frangipani, Bay Rum and Calypso music.”
– Harper’s Bazaar UK
“Amanda Smyth's debut novel is an intricately told tale about the search for belonging and love…Smyth's beautifully vivid descriptions of lush plantations, glistening horizons and wide, open bays draw you into Celia's journey…Stunning and moving.”
“Smyth is a skilful ventriloquist; the local patois is energetically conjured, and the narrative pace is gripping. In painterly images, Smyth evocatively shows more than she tells...a vivid and compelling story.”