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The Curiosity Cabinet

The Curiosity Cabinet [Kindle Edition]

Catherine Czerkawska
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)

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Product Description


"A powerful story about love and obligation… a persuasive novel, very well written." -- John Burnside, Dundee Prize Judge.

Product Description

‘The island reminds her of those magic painting books. The shop here used to sell them. You would dip your brush in water and pale, clear colours would emerge from the page, as this green and blue landscape is emerging from the mist.’

‘She saw before her a small but strongly built man, in his thirties perhaps, wearing highland dress, bare legs showing beneath the big blue plaid. He reminded her of the highlanders she had seen on the streets of Edinburgh where sometimes, dressed in their outlandish clothes, they were perceived as crude figures of fun and sometimes, bristling with weaponry and with the drink taken, as dangerous incomers. Manus was no figure of fun although she could see that he might be dangerous, a better friend than an enemy, perhaps.’

When Alys revisits the beautiful Hebridean island of Garve after an absence of twenty five years, she is captivated by the embroidered casket on display in her hotel. She discovers that it belongs to Donal, her childhood playmate, and soon they resume their old friendship. Interwoven with the story of their growing love, is the darker tale of Henrietta Dalrymple, kidnapped by the formidable Manus McNeill and held on Garve against her will. With three hundred years separating them, the women are linked by the cabinet and its contents, by the tug of motherhood and by the magic of the island itself. But Garve has its secrets, past and present. Donal must learn to trust Alys enough to confide in her and, like Henrietta before her, Alys must earn the right to belong.

What people have said about this book:
‘Heartwarming, realistic and page turning’ – Lorraine Kelly.
‘A powerful story about love and obligation… a persuasive novel, very well written’ - John Burnside.
‘A stunning Hebridean setting’ – the Sunday Herald.

The Curiosity Cabinet was one of three novels shortlisted for the prestigious 2005 Dundee Book Prize. It was published in the same year by Polygon but has been out of print for some time. The new cover design for the Kindle edition is by distinguished Scottish textile artist Alison Bell, who interpreted her own response to the book as follows: ‘The narrative works on many layers of memory and time, some hazy, some forgotten, but the island’s presence is constant, as a refuge and a place to grow and start afresh. I wanted the colours to be soft, subtle, muted, with hints of turquoise, like the sea up there. It is a gentle book which drifts into the mind’s eye as each chapter unfolds.’

Catherine Czerkawska is an award winning author of historical and contemporary novels, short stories and many plays for the stage and for BBC Radio 4. She loves the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, Scottish history and music. When not writing, she also finds time to collect and deal in antique and vintage textiles, especially those with a Scottish or Irish provenance. She's fascinated by costume history and often finds that antique textiles: embroideries, lace, silks and satins, find their way into her fiction.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 497 KB
  • Print Length: 260 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1904598420
  • Publisher: Wordarts; 1 edition (7 Aug 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S. r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005GEYW4A
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #54,690 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully crafted tapestry of a book 19 Aug 2011
By zabe
Format:Kindle Edition
Described to me as a love story by a friend, I was a bit reticent to read this as love stories are not my thing. However, this book displays a mastery of the craft of storytelling and writing that no self-respecting reader could fail to appreciate. With two resonating stories three hundred years apart many authors could have lost the thread- and the reader- somewhere along the way. Not this author. This work is beautifully woven into a veritable and rich tapestry of a book to insulate the reader against the chills, dreariness and thinness of much contemporary writing. It was captivating and beautifully - and properly- written. I finished it in the wee small hours two nights ago. I miss it.

Come on publishers, get the finger out! We need more from this author please.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book I've read this year 30 Aug 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I think I can honestly say this is the best book I have read this year, which is somewhat surprising as my reading preferences are dark crime, and this certainly didn't fit into that category. I loved the intertwined love stories, one set in the present and the other in the seventeenth century. Alys returns to the island of Garve where she holidayed as a child, and immediately falls under it's spell as well as that of Donal her childhood friend. While Henrietta is kidnapped and taken to the island against her will. Once there she also falls under the spell of the island as well as her kidnapper, Manus. There are parallels in both stories, both women are single mothers, Alys is divorced, and Henrietta is widowed. Both have a son from whom they are separated, Alys temporarily, but Henrietta permanently. There are many other parallels and sometimes it feels as if the women are mirroring each other despite the separation of centuries. The setting of the island of Garve is equally as enticing and it is not difficult to see why both women succumb to its spell. The story itself weaves a spell of its own, and the question of will she, won't she, runs through the stories of both women. This was a great read which I would recommend to everyone, and if you don't read it you are missing something very special.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Curious on Kindle 28 Aug 2011
I'm really glad this book came out on Kindle, because I might not have read it otherwise. It's a fantastic read, one that men or women can enjoy but told from a woman's point of view. (Two women's, actually.) The story moves forward at its own pace, making something that I found completely enchanting and, in a way, magical. But the reader's interest never slackens because of the clever way the author manipulates time and place. It's a love story but also much more, and love in all its aspects is lovingly described. I'd recommend this book to anyone wanting to read something unique, told by this unique writer, who is maybe better known as a playwright but writes cracking novels too.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Can't wait for her next novel! 6 Mar 2005
A wonderfully evocative tale with intricate descriptions of Scotland and the people who inhabit its mysteries.Well worth the read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In this book you enter two different eras intricately linked. Linked by a difficult love experience, an Island, two men shaped by the harsh environment of that island, and by an intriguing item - an embroidered cabinet.

A book of literary merit, without any of the boring traits associated with that category of works. Here the atmosphere is conveyed without long descriptions, but woven in skilfully and beautifully, transporting you to the harsh Scottish island, to feel the wind and the sea spray, hear the birds, see the swans, collect the shells with the girl of so many centuries ago, and the girl of today - just one parallel drawn of their lives - The other is the cabinet. A gift of love given to one. Surviving centuries to almost break the other.

Ultimately this is two love stories, and the reason I think of Barbara Erskine is how Catherine Czerkawska has brought threads of a happening of ancient times into the story of a young couple of today.

A book well deserving of five stars. Would love to read more by this author.

***I have read in forums on Amazon where readers do not like, or maybe, don't take any notice of, one author's review for another, but I write this as I do all my reviews, from my heart, having read and thoroughly enjoyed it. And, with the same sense any reader has of wanting to express that enjoyment of the work.

I have never met the author. I did come across her when she joined the same facebook page for authors that I did. My interest in her work was triggered by clicking on a link she posted on that site to her book. My review is unbiased. I would thoroughly recommend this excellent book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars yearning for my island home 19 Aug 2011
By rosina
Format:Kindle Edition
This beautifully written book makes me want to go home to my island once more. The sounds of the sea, the silence on the wind all speak of how island life is, for real. This narrative resonates true empathy, someone who understands about life, love and isolation. I need a sequel now!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Page Turner if ever there was one 16 April 2005
Page turner seems to be the word of the moment and, by thunder, here we have one. I was intrigued by the mystery running through the interleaved story of Henrietta as well as being fascinated by its historical setting. I was swiftly embroiled in the troubles of the extremely likeable Alys, thoroughly modern heroine of the present day tale. I was gripped by the two love stories, both beginning slowly but gathering a momentum to leave one breathless - will she? won't she? - in the best Romantic tradition. History, Mystery, Romance - what more could one ask? Well, I did get more - I myself fell in love during my almost-at-one sitting reading. I fell in love with the island of Garve - the descriptions of which evoke for me some snatches of personal memories of the harsh yet harmonious Hebridean landscape - but yet remain new and unknown territory ( I assume it is a fictional place but I still yearn to go there) from Catherine`s seductive presentation of its flaura, fauna and distinctive scents, its buildings spanning three centuries, to say nothing of its fascinating human inhabitants.
Add to all that the author's clever juxtaposition of tenses, unselfconscious prose style and magical conjuring up of places, people, feelings - plunging the reader into the very midst of them, whether in this century or a more distant time. Yes, yes, yes - page turner it most definitely is.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A lovely read
I so enjoyed this book. The two storylines running between the past and the present and the atmospheric descriptions of the island interwove through time in some really lovely... Read more
Published 11 days ago by lizeegee
4.0 out of 5 stars The Curiosity Cabinet
The Curiosity Cabinet captures the beauty and isolation of the Scottish islands. Set on Garve/Garbh both in the present day of depopulation and tourism and in the past of... Read more
Published 1 month ago by SuzM
4.0 out of 5 stars Unexpectedly good.
I wasn't expecting anything much from this book, I got it because it was free.

I found however that I enjoyed it very much. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Claire OWEN
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!
I completely loved this novel. The two narratives, separated by several hundred years but sharing the same setting, are conveyed in such a magical and engaging way that I really... Read more
Published 2 months ago by K. Hanney
5.0 out of 5 stars easy relaxing read
The story is simple and a good holiday read, east to sit back and enjoy while relaxing. Good historic/modern day romance.
Published 6 months ago by Mrs. H. Brink
4.0 out of 5 stars Small and perfectly formed
I read this e-book in a few sittings and found it the perfect length for the story it has to tell of two Scottish heroines who each lose their lose their hearts to highlanders, or... Read more
Published 10 months ago by AliB
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for me
I found this book dull and could not get past the first few chapters so decided to give it up.
Published 12 months ago by like cooking
4.0 out of 5 stars Readable
Readable light book with a nice jump back and for in time story. Like both romances all in all a good read
Published 13 months ago by M. Slessor
5.0 out of 5 stars lThe Curiosity Cabinet
This is a suberb love story with a difference. Not mushy, just a nice sentimental story with depth to the characters.
Published 13 months ago by Eileen54
5.0 out of 5 stars Spellbinding
Well, I loved it.
A slow start for me, and although this love story is a slow burn in most aspects, it caught me in a powerful grip around a third of the way through. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Jan Ruth
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