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Customer Review

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Island of broken dreams is the key character in this remarkable book by a master storyteller., 18 Dec. 2012
This review is from: San Miguel (Hardcover)
San Miguel is a tiny, desolate island off the west coast of America opposite Santa Barbara. It is an inhospitable place as far as humans, trees and plants are concerned though the sheep appear to thrive. Since the 1880s and throughout harsh economic times, the island has provided some sort of a "living" for anyone foolhardy enough to take on the management of the wool business, wool - and heartache - being the only things the island seems capable of producing.

The book opens, in 1888, with Marantha's story. Will Waters, Marantha's second husband, has persuaded her that the island's climate will be good for her tuberculosis; nothing could be further from the case. Nevertheless, Will drags Marantha, her adopted daughter Edith and their cook Ida to this new life on a remote and windswept island.

The story continues with Edith and her wretched attempts to escape from San Miguel. We then move to the 1930s. Once again, there are hard economic choices to be made and in this third and final part of the book, we meet Elise and Herbie Lester who genuinely love the place and want nothing more than to bring up a family there in peace and tranquillity.

Whilst all the characters are movingly conveyed with complete conviction and credibility, it is San Miguel which is the hero - or rather, the anti-hero - of the book. It is a formidable place realised by a formidable writer. The book is based on three real life stories.

ON A PERSONAL NOTE:

As an avid reader, I am absolutely ashamed to say that I knew nothing of T.C. Boyle's work before reading San Miguel. Indeed, so exquisitely does Mr Boyle capture the very essence of womanhood with his empathetic portrayals of his three main female protagonists, that I actually wondered whether the T and C stood for female names! (I never look at the back fly leaf until the end of a book.) This is a memorable book from a master storyteller and I couldn't recommend it more highly.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 19 Dec 2012 21:11:02 GMT
Great review!

Posted on 9 Jan 2013 18:17:04 GMT
Last edited by the author on 9 Jan 2013 18:17:17 GMT
mfl says:
It's sadly not a surprise that more aren't aware of the magic of TCB.

Next stop try Tortilla Curtain or Riven Rock and you'll be hooked.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jan 2013 19:14:20 GMT
Last edited by the author on 9 Jan 2013 19:15:51 GMT
Thanks for these recommends, mfl, most kind of you. I've made a note of them!

Why is he not better known, do you think?

Posted on 18 Sep 2013 22:25:30 BDT
Purpleheart says:
Hi, I'm a big fan of his and have read all his books....he is amazingly prolific. I second Tortilla Curtain and his other historical novels are fascinating - insights into Frank Llloyd Wright, Kinsey, Kellogg etc
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