San Miguel

San Miguel

Book - 2012
Average Rating:
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From the New York Times bestselling 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.
Publisher: New York : Viking Penguin, 2012.
ISBN: 9780670026241
0670026247
Branch Call Number: FIC Boyle
Characteristics: 367 pages : map.

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EmilyEm
Nov 18, 2012

Boyle tells this story of two families living on San Miguel, one of the Channel Islands off coast of California at Santa Barbara. They are told through the eyes of women, reluctant adventurers in this lonely place during the 1880s and the 1930s.

As he did in his book The Women, Boyle uses real lives, journals and articles to create his fictional tale. But, I had an uneasy feeling this time. Marantha, the woman from an earlier time, is dying of TB, making the first part very grim. By contrast, Elise embraces her life on this remote island, seemingly happier than could be possible. Disappointing for me

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BigOrange
Nov 15, 2012

Interesting descriptions of these women's different experiences living on an isolated island at different time periods. I kept expecting the stories to interweave in some way, but each story was isolated as well.

m
maven
Oct 07, 2012

Two separate families' experiences on an island off the coast of California, each with aspects that drew my interest. However, I felt like I wanted to hear more about each story, and the segue between the time periods was not that smooth, so the time shift was a bit rough.

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