From the New York Times best-selling author of The Women, a historical novel about three women’s lives on a California island.
On a tiny, desolate, windswept island off the coast of Southern California, two families, one in the 1880s and one in the 1930s, come to start new lives and pursue dreams of self-reliance and freedom. Their extraordinary stories, full of struggle and hope, are the subject of T. C. Boyle’s haunting new novel.
Thirty-eight-year-old Marantha Waters arrives on San Miguel on New Year’s Day 1888 to restore her failing health. Joined by her husband, a stubborn, driven Civil War veteran who will take over the operation of the sheep ranch on the island, Marantha strives to persevere in the face of the hardships, some anticipated and some not, of living in such brutal isolation. Two years later their adopted teenage daughter, Edith, an aspiring actress, will exploit every opportunity to escape the captivity her father has imposed on her. Time closes in on them all and as the new century approaches, the ranch stands untenanted.
And then in March 1930, Elise Lester, a librarian from New York City, settles on San Miguel with her husband, Herbie, a World War I veteran full of manic energy. As the years go on they find a measure of fulfillment and serenity; Elise gives birth to two daughters, and the family even achieves a celebrity of sorts. But will the peace and beauty of the island see them through the impending war as it had seen them through the Depression?
Rendered in Boyle’s accomplished, assured voice, with great period detail and utterly memorable characters, this is a moving and dramatic work from one of America’s most talented and inventive storytellers.
©2012 T.C. Boyle (P)2012 Penguin
This told a story of 2 families who lived on San Miguel. It would have been nice to have them come together somehow. It was just a story with no kind of purpose.
I would have linked the first family somehow with the second.
It was very negative, nothing but doom and gloom from the main character for enough of the book to make me give up. And not enough story to make me care what happened.
I like T.C. Boyle, but Barbara Caruso is not a good reader for this book.
No. Drop City was much better.
Way too dramatic
I am a lifelong lover of books. I got my degree in English & worked in the publishing business for many years. Now I work with wildlife.
The idea of "historical fiction" has never appealed to me much, so that pretty much leaves T.C. Boyle out. However I went to a couple of his readings, and found him to be such a charming, humorous, intelligent guy that I really wanted to read one of his books. SAN MIGUEL sounded good, so it was my first T.C. Boyle read. I enjoyed this book enormously and felt that the performance was part of the reason why. Barbara Caruso did such a good job. The characters, location, and story of the two families living on the island of San Miguel were interesting and held my attention. This may have been my first book by T.C. Boyle, but it definitely won't be my last. Now I want to move on to WHEN THE KILLING'S DONE, which takes place in the same location.
The stories in both time frames dragged on and on.
Yes, because he has written some interesting things in his life.
She does a good job with many voices.
I would have cut the whole book down to half its size.
Her delivery had peaks and valleys, and it was hard to understand words in the valley - i.e., she swallowed words. Her emoting forced us to strain to hear.
Nothing happens in this book and the characters are not very interesting. Unless you are planning a trip to (uninhabited) San Miguel, there's no reason to read this.
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