Two islands. Two women.
The year is 1289 and an injured young man washes up on an island of women. He is taken in by a sculptor who sees in him the perfect model for her Christ, although her real masterwork in progress is a life-sized carved Madonna. But the Church will come to reject this sisterhood of unmarried women on the island, and they are bound to lose their small freedoms.
Centuries later, a lieutenant is commandeered to an island to dispose of unexploded ordnance. As an erstwhile World War II flight nurse trained to evacuate wounded soldiers, she too has gazed upon, and been haunted by, the bodies of broken young men. For her, a fraught love affair with a local man will ignite, while his teenage daughter looks on.
Binding the lives – so different and so similar – of women separated by time and place, Claire Robertson’s Isle is an all-encompassing rumination on privacy, inhibition and female desire, rendered in her masterful prose.
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