PROVIDENCE POND by Beresford McLean


Email this review


A spiritual family epic set in Jamaica between the 1880s and 1920s.

Following her new husband’s disappearance after her wedding, Afia, in grief and confusion, succumbs to the advances of wealthy landowner Vijay Boydell. When her husband, Bem Covey, returns four months later, she must tell him that she is pregnant. Covey then calls Boydell, along with others, to Providence Pond in order to determine a course of action. A mysterious stranger, Asa, suddenly arrives to settle things in a more civilized manner than the murderous intentions of Covey and Boydell. Asa also tells the group that he is the King of a Kumina Family, that he intends to start a new Family in Providence and that he will soon return with his son and daughter, who will lead them. When Afia’s baby is born, she is named Ama King. Years later, after the population of Providence has been decimated by an epidemic of smallpox, Asa returns with his son, Congo, and his daughter, Miss Hene, to begin building a new Kumina Family. Though apprehensive of the mysterious faith–it involves “walking” the dead, and has been outlawed in a Jamaica still dominated by British laws and customs–Afia and her family are drawn to the love and wisdom that Congo and Miss Hene bring to their community. After many years, and a meandering path of both happiness and pain, a new Kumina Family is finally born in Providence. McLean (Broken Gourds, 2002) offers a finely wrought epic based on thorough knowledge of Jamaican history and culture, but the scope of the novel often outpaces the narrative focus, as many of the characters are merely signposts along the well-orchestrated, engrossing journey.

A trip worth taking.

ISBN: 0-9753297-1-5
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online: