Tag Archives: historical

Lighthousekeeping by Jeanette Winterson

DATE FINISHED: June 22nd, 2012 

RATED: ****

SYNOPSIS:  Orphaned Silver is apprenticed to lighthousekeeper Pew, and in the darkness of the lighthouse she finds stories hang in the air like seaspray. From Pew she learns about Babel Dark, the minister son of the man who built the lighthouse, and his own haunted tale of love and duality. And eventually Silver follows the trail to find a love of her own.

THOUGHTS:  Winterson’s musical prose weaves back and forth through time, painting vivid pictures of darkness and light, past and present but avoiding extraneous detail: a watercolour wash of dreamlike images. Read more of this post

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English Passengers by Matthew Kneale

DATE FINISHED: May 27th, 2012

RATED: **** 

SYNOPSIS:  A Manx smuggling ship sees its way out of a tight spot by offering itself up to charter. When the initial plan to offload its travellers fails dismally, Captain Illiam Quilliam Kewley eventually concedes that the only way out of his current conundrum is indeed to take his ragbag assortment of English Passengers all the way to Tasmania, on their doomed-to-failure plan to discover the original Garden of Eden. As their lengthy journey commences, the story is interspersed with the narrative of Peevay, who provides the voice of the aboriginal in an also-doomed fight against the colonial invasion. Eventually the two stories collide.

THOUGHTS: Kneale uses multiple narrators to advance his story, shifting every few pages between different voices.  Surprisingly, this works, as Kneale has a gift for characterisation, Read more of this post

Savage Lands by Clare Clark

DATE FINISHED: September 7th, 2011

RATED: ****

SYNOPSIS:  Sold by her father in Paris to become a wife in the ‘prosperous’ new colony of Louisiana, Elisabeth Savaret finds her expectations confounded at every turn – especially when she falls violently in love with the man she marries, the charming but untrustworthy Babelon.  Having been left as an observer of the local Ouma ‘savages’ throughout his teenage years, Auguste Guichard is befriended by Babelon, a move which shapes the lives of the three protagonists from that moment forth.

THOUGHTS:  Although there are one or two moments when Clark’s narrative makes brief and unaccountable leaps, for the most part this is a well-written novel, with strong, considered language accompanying strong, considered characters.   Read more of this post