My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The author’s prose is beautifully written, though the story begins slowly. Once I got into the novel, it moved quickly and I was engrossed.
The story follows a man and a young girl who are trapped on an island after their plane crashes in the sea. Stuart is a complicated man, and the reader is not enticed to see him as either “good” or “bad”. The author has woven a tale that won’t cause the reader to pinpoint good or evil; instead, I found myself seeing humanity for what it is, and the complicated friendship between an older man and a young girl as quite natural in its circumstances.
Stuart seems embarrassed by his unusual attraction to Tania: “…the girl was of an age where surely no reasonable man would think of her in that way, and he saw himself as a reasonable man.”
So far away from everything Stuart knows, he cannot seem to comprehend why he’s feeling this way.
From the novel: “Nothing about it was unnatural, he thought, but hellish inconvenient, and he must grit his teeth and continue as a trustworthy friend to the kid till the time of their freedom came. Still, it remained damned unexpected that he could be stirred this way by one so young.”
Two people are surviving together, getting to know each other. The result, to me, became an examination of the human experience and sexuality in a place completely separated from society—a secluded, deserted island where the rules of society begin to seem distant.
My only disappointment was that the book was slow-going at first; however, the writing was beautiful, and the characters and their experiences deep and engrossing. I very much enjoyed the development of the friendship between Stuart and Tania, as well as the fascinating psychological aspects of his attraction to her and his constant inner battle as he attempts to squash his lustful thoughts in an effort to protect her, to be a friend to her. The reader also sees the world from the perspectives of other characters, those who are living within the confines of society, far away from this island. It offers an interesting comparison between what life might be like if we were forced to survive after such a crash, and what life would continue to be like in the everyday world of cultural rules and order.