Paperback review: San Miguel, By T C Boyle


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The Independent Culture

What looks at first like an homage to Wuthering Heights – an unsympathetic husband, a sickly wife, hostile terrain, then an unhappy second generation where sheer loneliness brings people together – swerves halfway through to give us something different altogether.

Boyle’s use of the historical is always different, and here he doesn’t disappoint. Marantha’s fate is established from the beginning, as we learn she is dying from TB and her husband, Will, has insisted they try this new life on a windswept, rainy island, exactly the kind of environment that will finish her off. What is less predictable is how her adopted daughter, Edith, will cope after her mother’s death, or how the next family to arrive there will develop and grow to love the place. As ever, environment and human relations are intertwined in an absorbing tale.