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San Miguel Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
The choice of subject matter, such long, hard lives, and the chosen end point, combine to make this something of a joyless read, but never the less, not one I regret.
For now Boyle seems to take his women and his island life very seriously. San Miguel is third in an unconnected run of novels that deal vicariously with the same. Sitting and pondering all from his Santa Barbara home it all seems very close to home. That this is another fictional account of actual events needs to show inspiration enough.
If ever a reader wants to immerse in an alterlife then San Miguel delivers in the perfect script. Over several generations we are borne by the tide to the wilderness of the island and all from the perspective of its women. There is doom and gloom, some joy and much heartbreak but nonetheless some generous affirmation of life in windy conditions. Come the end you will be sad to leave. San Miguel is a book about hardship and devotion, about family and marital obligation, warring history and geography; the human condition and how it adapts and succumbs, controls and disappears. Therein lies Boyle the chronicler, the master of emotions, vital minutia and bringing old forgotten histories and diaries to life.
San Miguel is of course another fine novel from T C Boyle. But it doubtless will not fire the literary world alight.Read more ›
The narrative is punctuated by common events: the arrival of the sheep-shearers, the discovery of mice, Christmas. And even the war feels distant as the years flit by.
Ultimately this contrasts the futility and littleness of human lives with the enduring island which remains indifferent to the lives which have been lived upon it.
So not a book to choose if you're feeling even the slightest bit down as this certainly isn't a consoling read. I admired the writing, the control, and the restraint of the book but the austerity of the emotional vision just didn't speak to me.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The first section of this book was reasonably interesting and there were some vivid descriptions of island life. Read morePublished on 28 July 2014 by Joyce
San Miguel is this author's fourteenth novel, but the first I've read. Most of the story is set on the island of San Miguel, the most north-westerly of the California Channel... Read morePublished on 24 May 2014 by Mirren Jones, Author of 'Eight of Cups'
If you have never read work by this author try this particular book - it is beautifully written - and a fascinating story - I couldn't put is down. Read morePublished on 28 April 2014 by G.Samuel
This is a historical novel set in 1880's and 1930's. It tells firstly the story of a woman and her Civil War veteran husband as they work the harsh life on a sheep ranch. Read morePublished on 23 April 2014 by Lily
This is one of the best novels I have ever read - wonderfully written, incredible, far reaching storyline - great read.Published on 1 April 2014 by jane harper
TC Boyle is able to occupy any genre, any theme, and make it his own: Book by book, you never know whats going to come along next. Read morePublished on 31 Mar. 2014 by A. Miles
This is a wonderful book. It is gripping from the very beginning and presents the tragedy and beauty of these isolated lives in a sophisticated and fascinating manner. Read morePublished on 20 Mar. 2014 by Amazon Customer
Captivating narrative that keeps you turning the pages. Great family portrait,especially highlighting a line of strong women making their way in challenging circumstances. Read morePublished on 19 Sept. 2013 by yps