Islands Of Silence

( 3 )

Overview

In the summer of 1914 Alec Marquand has just graduated from college and has been hired by the lord of a remote country estate in the Scottish Highlands to survey the ancient Iron Age brochs that lie on his property. Once there Alec comes upon a small island which is called Eileen Tosdach—the Island of Silence. Just as Alec makes his amazing find, he is shipped off to war, sent to storm the beaches of Gallipoli. From the author of the Booker shortlisted The Industry of Souls, this is a gripping tour through one ...

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Islands of Silence: A Novel

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Overview

In the summer of 1914 Alec Marquand has just graduated from college and has been hired by the lord of a remote country estate in the Scottish Highlands to survey the ancient Iron Age brochs that lie on his property. Once there Alec comes upon a small island which is called Eileen Tosdach—the Island of Silence. Just as Alec makes his amazing find, he is shipped off to war, sent to storm the beaches of Gallipoli. From the author of the Booker shortlisted The Industry of Souls, this is a gripping tour through one man's hell in search of a path for redemption.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Booth (Industry of Souls; Hiroshima Joe; etc.) offers a dreamy allegory of lost innocence in this novel about a young British archeologist who loses a chance at love when he's forced to serve in WWI. Alec Marquand is an old man, lying dying in a hospital; he barely moves and has not spoken a word in years, but his vivid memories are full of passion, intrigue and confrontation. He begins his career mapping Stone Age "brochs" on a remote Scottish island. There, he encounters a beautiful, otherworldly young woman, part mystical vision, part flesh and blood. Marquand is entranced by her innocence-she seems oddly brazen and unashamed of her nakedness. Though she doesn't speak and he knows nothing about her, they develop a sort of rapport, and she allows him to sketch her. Their unorthodox relationship is interrupted by his stepfather, a former colonel, who offers the young man a commission as the war with Germany approaches. Marquand refuses the commission, and the colonel has him imprisoned for refusing to serve. After doing time, Marquand endures a grueling tour of duty as a military medic. When he returns to the island, he catches only one more glimpse of the woman before she vanishes forever. Booth is a skilled storyteller, especially in the early chapters, when he brings Marquand's ghostly would-be lover to life. Marquand's effort to warm himself decades later with the memory of the unconsummated affair while trying to forget the horrors of war is moving as well. Not everyone will appreciate the mystical conceit, but readers who do will find this a solidly written, engaging tale. (Jan.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The First World War slowly claims one of its last victims, a conscientious objector left mute by the horrors of the great slaughter. Booker-finalist Booth (Industry of Souls, 1999, etc.) cuts back and forth between 1914 Scotland, where young archaeologist Alec Marquand researches a prehistoric site, and a nursing home in present-day England, where his life is slipping away. Too, there are scenes from the battlefield, where the taste of war is bitter enough to make Marquand withdraw from the rest of his life-which could and should have been so good. Smart and deeply sensual, Marquand chose a career whose first job took him to a Neolithic stone tower on coastal land owned by a Scottish laird. Living in a primitive fishing village among superstitious locals, Marquand catches a glimpse of light on a nearby and supposedly uninhabited island. Close examination leads to another stone tower and a glimpse of a young girl. The girl comes and goes with supernatural ease, but she's real, the bastard child of an earlier laird who placed her in the care of deaf mutes to see whether she would mature to speak the language of angels. Warned by his well-lettered landlord that the villagers fear the off-islanders as malevolent spirits, Marquand revisits the site and is delighted to find himself more or less stalked by the girl when she swims across the separating channel to visit him at his dig. The quick warmth that sparks lights between the speechless girl and the lonely young man becomes his only comfort and eventual grasp on sanity when he's yanked from his work by the long reach of his odious stepfather, a retired colonel, and thrust, as a medic, into the monstrous meat grinder of the Great War. Hissubsequent complete and voluntary withdrawal from human intercourse ends only in the last days of his life, when he allows a young doctor to approach. Somber, intelligent, poignant and powerful.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312423322
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Publication date: 1/1/2004
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 815,181
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

Martin Booth is a critically acclaimed novelist, children's writer, and a documentary and feature film writer. He is the author of thirteen novels, including A Very Private Gentleman, The Industry of Souls, and Hiroshima Joe. He lives in Devon, England.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2014

    Elegantly written, mournful, hauntingly sad. Martin Booth's fina

    Elegantly written, mournful, hauntingly sad. Martin Booth's final novel was an epitaph for the world he was leaving.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2004

    Pure Love Vs. Horror of WWI

    Absolutely loved this book. Could barely read the final page through the tears...Incredibly sad yet oddly uplifting.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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