Thursday, 2 May 2013

San Miguel by T C Boyle

T C Boyle conjures up a world of dreams, possibilities and heart-break in this novel set on San Miguel, an island off the coast of California. The island is the wild and windswept site of a sheep station and in 1888 it becomes the home of Will and Marantha and Marantha’s lively teenage
daughter, Edith. Will hopes to make his fortune, and Marantha hopes the fresh air will cure her tuberculosis, but optimism soon turns to disappointment, and both Marantha and Edith find themselves desperate to leave.

Forty odd years later another couple is eager to try island life. This time it’s Elise, who has been swept off her feet by exuberant and adorable Herbie, just when she thought she was a spinster for life. Their experience is more the island dream they hope for and their marriage seems truly blessed, but can they survive at a time of the Great Depression and then another world war?

Boyle has a gift of making his characters very real and their isolation on the island throws their relationships, trials and aspirations into sharp relief. The island itself is described so well you can taste the salt in the air and feel the sand beneath your feet. This is a haunting and unusual story, beautifully narrated.

Reviewed by JAM

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San Miguel by T C Boyle, 2012

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