"Amy: Congratulations on The Small Fortune of Dorothea Q! I just love the title of the book. Can you tell us a little about the main characters and the story (without any spoilers)?Sharon: There are three main characters, three generations of women:
We first meet the Dorothea of the title as a cantankerous old lady in a wheelchair, arriving in London to join her daughter Rika and granddaughter Inky. Later in the story we go back to Dorothea’s youth in Georgetown, Guyana, learn of the great tragedy in her life, and find out why she is the way she is.
Inky, the granddaughter, is the first-person narrator for a third of the story; Dorothea gets on Inky’s eighteen-year-old nerves on the one hand, on the other hand she slowly learns respect, and grows curious as to her grandmother’s past. She is also desperate to find out the enormous family secret: why did her mother, Rika, run away from home when she was 16, never to speak to Dorothea again until now?
Rika is a woman of many secrets. By nature introverted and bookish, she is an enigma to Inky; as the story unfolds, we go back to Rika’s own colourful past in Guyana, and learn of her own deep wound.
These three stories intertwine throughout the novel. There’s a lot to be forgiven, and a lot to be understood. Inky tries, and fails, to mediate between her mother and grandmother, but in the end she too has to go back to her family roots in Guyana, learn respect, and solve her own problems.
The “Small Fortune” of the title is a tiny heirloom Dorothea has in her possession: a valuable postage stamp. As we all know, heirlooms can bring out the worst in some families, and this is the case here as well! In fact, the stamp – a sister to the world famous British Guiana 1 Cent Magenta, the rarest stamp in the world – is a McGuffin, driving the plot. On it hinges all the complications between these three women – and on it hinges also the story’s resolution." MORE