|Goree Island: Senegal, West Africa
|The beginning...From The Door of No Return
An Ocean of Jewels, by Judy C. Andrews
The Harlem Writers Guild Press, an imprint
of iUniverse, Inc., introduced readers to my novel, An Ocean
of Jewels at readings and book signings throughout the New York City area in June
An Ocean of Jewels is a powerful
and inspiring literary journey of one woman's battle to embrace love and her rich Gullah/Geechee heritage.
wasn't until I was an adult that I learned that my father spoke the Geechee language. I had spent my entire childhood in foster
care, and never understood the language my father spoke when I lived with him and my mother before I went into foster care.
When I entered college, I read a novel by brilliant
author Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and it
opened up a new world for me. Many of the phrases in the novel were identical to things I grew up hearing my father
say, such as "Tie yuh mout'," "Don't be actin' so siditty," and "Yep, Ah reckon' so!" I
wanted to bring that pidgin to creole language back in a modern-day manner, and preserve it, just for myself.
The novel is written in standard, modern English; however, it also
captures the beauty of the Gullah/Geechee language. During my research, I learned that Gullah is the pidgin to creole language
African slaves spoke in America during slavery along the coasts of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. For example,
"Dat's up tuh duh notch," is a Gullah phrase that means "That's delicious!" It is believed that
West African countries were the original homes of the Gullah/Geechee people.
Geechee is the language the African slaves spoke whenever they were in the presence
of people who did not understand the Gullah language. For example, someone unfamiliar with the Gullah language would
still understand the Geechee meaning of this statement, "We haffuh hol on tuh we own land."
I hope that I have done more than preserve the
language. In the novel, An Ocean of Jewels, I share with the reader
the language, culture, and history of a Gullah/Geechee community by introducing the reader to the fictional places of Jewel
Park, New York and Eva Creek Island--places where the major characters' ancestors lived before they were forced to leave their
beautiful country of Sierra Leone to horrifically be forced to enslavement.
The modern day characters are rich, passionate, and inviting. The setting is
descriptive, and many of the neighborhoods reflect the town's opulence. Other cultural additions in the novel refer
to the Gullah/Geechee Island Prayers Houses, worship services, and of course traditional beverages and meals like teacola
tea, sweet potato pone, spoonbread, and grilled mullet. When Imani Jewel Henderson’s mysterious father
dies on her 29th birthday, Christmas day, 1999, she begins a journey toward self-love, and faces many challenges. Can she
unravel the secrets of her family’s disturbing past when she was a foster child? Why did her mother commit suicide and
leave her all alone? Why did her father keep notes about a holy river, an Orphan Train, and a murder in 1901? How will she
battle depression and alcohol addiction? Will Imani heal from abusive relationships? How can she repair what she destroyed
when she slept with her best friend’s husband? Will she ever find the love that will connect her to her Gullah/Geechee
Imani discovers that the answers are hidden in the rich
details of her African American family traditions of quilts, folklore, Eva Creek Island, and the affluent town of Jewel Park,
Retailers may order the novel, An Ocean of Jewels, by Judy C. Andrews, through the following
Baker & Taylor
Price (Paperback): $17.95
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Haffuh hol on tuh we'own land; haffuh hol on tuh we'own freedum!