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Sugar Island Hardcover – 20 Jan 2011


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray (20 Jan 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 071952184X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719521843
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.3 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 476,056 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sanjida O'Connell is a writer, journalist and broadcaster.

She's the author of four novels, Theory of Mind, Angel Bird, The Naked Name of Love and Sugar Island.

She's contributed to a number of non-fiction books, including Animal Life and Nature's Calendar, based on the BBC TV series, which she co-presented with Chris Packham.

Her other non-fiction books are Mindreading: How we learn to love and lie, Sugar: The grass that changed the world and Chimpanzee: The making of the film.

Product Description

Review

'An absorbing novel inspired by the life of the famous English actress and writer Fanny Kemble, with a good helping of imagination thrown in. It's gripping, entertaining and entirely on the side of the angels' (The Times)

'Completely absorbing . . . A surprise delight that will please romantics with a conscience hugely' (City AM)

'This thought-provoking book is based on a true story . . . well-written and moving, though at times it is uncomfortable reading. This is partly due to the descriptions that make us feel as if we are actually witnessing the events and experiencing the places. The author . . . is to be congratulated on her excellent research and her ability to translate it into such a gripping and informative novel' (Yorkshire Gazette)

'Beautifully written, the contrasts between the luxurious life of the rich and the horrific, cruel lives of their slaves are vividly recorded and stay in the memory for a long time' (Press Association)

'A well-researched and sensitive story evoking a "twisted version of paradise". O'Connell writes with passion' (Oxford Times)

'A diverting read' (Irish Examiner)

'One of the ten books to look forward to in 2011' (Irish Post)

Book Description

A riveting story of compassion and justice set in the tumultous years of the American Civil War

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Rosie Hardy on 12 Jan 2011
Format: Hardcover
Sugar Island tells the story of Emily, a young English actress who, while working in America, falls in love with and marries an American lawyer. Not long after their wedding he is called back to run his family's sugar plantation on St Simon's Island off the coast of Georgia. Emily had no idea that he was anything other than a lawyer and so it is a huge shock to end up living as the wife of a slave owner. She keeps a diary of her life there, detailing the horrific and cruel practices that were common on plantations. As the novel is based on real diaries written at the time - late 1850s - the detail is as harrowing as it is authentic. The beauty of the island provides a stark contrast to the horrors being perpetuated on the plantation. The colours, textures, scents and sounds convey a real sense of place and combine to underline the terrible dichotomy of Emily's life there. Her life is a struggle to come to terms with the fact that the man she loved can be so brutal and she finds that her attempts to improve the slaves' lot actually make it worse. She can't leave the island as she has too much to lose, yet how can she stay and live a life of relative luxury in the midst of such deprivation. This novel is beautifully written and, though harrowing to read, it is ultimately rewarding for its depiction of Emily's struggle and her determination to stay true to her principles.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By penny on 27 May 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book, its is written in a slightly whimsical way in parts, true to the time period its set in.
Touchng on terrible treatment of slaves, but not too deeply.
It's not meant to be a documentory or a heavy drama but a lighter read.
I still found it iteresting and would recommend it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By patsabfab on 24 April 2011
Format: Hardcover
This was a book group choice otherwise I would never have purchased a hardback with such a whimsical cover. However, as this book has received many plaudits, and the author is an academic, I entered into the spirit of the "based on a true story" vibe surrounding the novel. I have had to speed read it as the nauseating detail of a country which exists only in the author's imagination, the jagged movement of time (it was a week later....), the ludicrous storyline and the one dimensional characters have left me cold. The condescending use of a supposed vernacular for the "niggers" set my teeth on edge as did the whole Charles bad/Emily good issue. The experience was akin to reading an over-long essay by one of my senior pupils who had been sitting with a thesaurus in order to use a wider vocabulary than she possessed - I was left itching for the blue editor's pencil.
My advice would be to save your money and wait till there is a paperback edition of this thinly disguised Mills and Boon - better still - use the library copy - better yet - don't waste precious hours of your life reading it at all.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mr. D. McKenna on 22 Feb 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sugar Island is Sandija O'Connell's second book which follows from her first historical version of the sugar trade. Unfortuntely I found this book to be very immature in both content and characterisation in its depiction of plantation life and the lives of the wealthy owners. The story line is extremely predictable....very disappointing read.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dee Dee on 2 Mar 2011
Format: Hardcover
I found Sugar Island a thoughtful and, in many ways, a powerful piece of writing. While I broadly expected the plot to follow the pattern it did, its originality consisted in the way that the story was treated. I waited with trepidation for the denouement; it was handled superbly. Throughout the book much of the interaction of the characters was deftly described with no words wasted and yet whether black or white rendered in their full humanity or lack of it.

I was taken with the scenic descriptions, they were sensitively and knowledgeably woven the background into the story and into the sensitivities of the characters.

The main character, Emily Harris, was obliged in a sense to follow the path of liberal reformers in that kind of situation. But O'Connell blended her original naiveté with a horrific sense of the gradual discovery of the injustices and horrors of Southern slavery, not least the manner in which the blacks were trapped within the system and the plantation owners imprisoned in the cages of their minds.

I read the book quickly which is what one should be able to do with a novel. Its action, and indeed its thinking, moved at a pace that kept the reader's interest going.
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