Tag Archives: island

The Book of Colour by Julia Blackburn

DATE FINISHED: July 24th, 2012 

RATED: **** 

SYNOPSIS:  When the family is cursed by a ‘devil’ islander, the narrator’s grandfather as a boy is uprooted from the home he has known and transplanted into an alternative island life, now under the care of his uncle and ‘his mulatto’, while his father stays behind, and his mother is placed in an asylum.  A history of curses, mixed race unions and cultural bigotry haunts the family through generations.

THOUGHTS:  In the first part of the book some intriguing images are introduced but the characters appear as though within a dream or trance-like state.  In the second part of the book, however, the narrative becomes more linear Read more of this post

A Summer of Drowning by John Burnside

DATE FINISHED: July 2nd, 2012 

RATED: **** (4.5)

SYNOPSIS:  Liv is raised by her extraordinarily self-contained artist mother on a tiny Norwegian island, where the summer nights are white and haunting, and her neighbour’s folk tales of trolls and huldra do not seem out of place. When two boys Liv has known from school drown within weeks of each other, the landscape of her eighteenth summer becomes laced with a heightened intensity, compounded by the appearance of an English man with secrets who is staying nearby, and the wild girl Maia who Liv knows spent time with the drowned boys before their death and seems to have a malevolent influence on those around her. Can she really be the huldra?

THOUGHTS:  This is an intensely dark and brooding story, simmering with suspense and seeped in rich imagery of the Norwegian landscape. Read more of this post

The Messenger of Athens by Anne Zouroudi

DATE FINISHED: May 31st, 2012

RATED: *** 

SYNOPSIS:  On a small Greek island steeped in tradition and social ritual, a woman is found dead. The local police are happy to brush the incident aside as suicide or accident, but the sudden appearance of the mysterious Hermes Diaktoros forces the close-knit community to face what has happened in its midst. And although Hermes is not an agent of the law, he is nonetheless determined that the guilty will be brought to justice of one kind or another…

THOUGHTS:  I don’t often read crime fiction, but I don’t think this is the kind of book that would appeal to the average crime reader, anyway. Read more of this post

Small Island by Andrea Levy

DATE FINISHED: April 6th, 2012

RATED: ****

SYNOPSIS:  Hortense and Gilbert are a mismatched couple who each have their own reasons for agreeing to marry in haste so that they might leave their small island of Jamaica behind and settle in ‘the mother country’ (another small island). Queenie is their landlady, who met Gilbert during the war, and is one of the few people in London willing to take in ‘coloured’ lodgers (much to the chagrin of her neighbours). Queenie’s own husband is missing, but that seems to be the least of her concerns…

THOUGHTS:   This is the story of four people who have little in common – except perhaps high hopes and disappointment. Read more of this post

The Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende

DATE FINISHED: September 15th, 2011             

RATED: ***(3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  Tete is sold to plantation owner Valmorain when she is a child, as a gift for his new bride.  However as his wife succumbs to illness in the suffocating tropical atmosphere of Saint-Domingue (later Haiti), Valmorain finds additional uses for Tete.  The children she bears & raises for him change the course of both of their lives irrevocably, but Tete waits only for her freedom.  When Valmorain moves to New Orleans to escape the slaves rebellion and danger of Saint-Domingue, Tete’s situation changes again as Valmorain takes a new wife.  But in a new country & a new city, where interactions between the free and slaves, between whites and those of colour are even more complex, Tete and her children have all new challenges and relationships to face.

THOUGHTS:  I was initially taken aback by Allende’s sprawling prose, descriptive and decadent as the tropical climes represented, Read more of this post

Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

DATE FINISHED: March 26th, 2011

RATED: **

SYNOPSIS: The only white man on the island of Bougainville becomes teacher to the local children while a civil war impacts on the lives around them.  Mr. Watts introduces the children to Mister Dickens through the adventures of Pip in Great Expectations, but as the narrator, 13 year old Matilda, comes to consider Pip a personal friend, she inadvertently draws unwanted and dangerous attention to their little village.

THOUGHTS: Read more of this post

The Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

DATE FINISHED: March 10th, 2011

RATED: ****

SYNOPSIS: After a lonely childhood watching her mother’s descent into madness, Antoinette marries an Englishman who has travelled to Jamaica upon invitation by her step-brother. They embark upon a sensual love affair, but soon the village gossip pushes Antoinette’s new husband to the brink of madness himself as he begins to believe the rumours.

THOUGHTS: Read more of this post