rating: 5 of 5 stars
The author, Wayne Johnston, has perception and skills far above anyone else I have remembered reading. Johnston is a native of Newfoundland. The protagonist, Sheliagh Fielding, was first introduced in a superb prior novel by Johnston, The Colony of Unrequited Dreams. In this one, at age 44, Fielding seeks the isolation of an abandoned settlement on an island off the coast of Newfoundland, and she essentially takes the reader back in time for the bulk of the novel. There is not much that can be written about day to day life on an abandoned island of only one resident. Fielding is a six foot three tall, sarcastic, life long alcoholic, who has known direct love so briefly in passing. Fielding retains her humanity despite her pattern of living in the dregs of Newfoundland, and those digs are deep. Much of the novel is past recollection of a huge wasteland of family lies, deceptions, and apparitions. As a believable character, Fielding is as well developed and unique a presence as in any novel. The writing is brilliant, the wordplay rich and layered. This is not a book to rocket through. I now plan to read everything Johnston has ever read, having completed three of his novels so far.