San Miguel: A Novel [NOOK Book]

Overview

The brilliant and acclaimed New York Times bestseller from the author of The Women and When the Killing’s Done



Just off the coast of Southern California, two families—one in the 1880s and one in the 1930s—come to desolate, windswept San Miguel Island in search of self-reliance, freedom, and a new start in their lives. Both Marantha Waters and Elise Lester strive to help ...
See more details below
San Miguel: A Novel

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$9.99
BN.com price

Overview

The brilliant and acclaimed New York Times bestseller from the author of The Women and When the Killing’s Done



Just off the coast of Southern California, two families—one in the 1880s and one in the 1930s—come to desolate, windswept San Miguel Island in search of self-reliance, freedom, and a new start in their lives. Both Marantha Waters and Elise Lester strive to help their war veteran husbands pursue their dreams but must themselves grapple with the more nebulous hardships of raising a family in brutal isolation. Boyle “skillfully captures that tension-filled quietude” (The New Times Book Review) in this lyrical, intimate, and unforgettable novel.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
Theatrical as he appears in those outrageous shirts and jackets, in his fiction Boyle never steals the spotlight from his characters, from what they're wrestling with. His previous novel, When the Killing's Done (2011), took place on the Channel Islands off the coast of California and managed to make the complex issue of environmental reclamation tremendously exciting. His new novel, San Miguel, is a kind of prequel that again takes place on one of the Channel Islands, but the story's tone and pace are entirely different. Instead of violently dramatizing a contemporary debate, San Miguel is an absorbing work of historical fiction based on the lives of two real families who resided on San Miguel Island in the 19th and 20th centuries.
—Ron Charles
Publishers Weekly
On New Year’s Day 1888, the ailing Marantha Waters sails across San Francisco Bay to remote San Miguel Island with her second husband and adopted daughter in hopes that the fresh air will restore her health. Marantha and her family, city folk by nature, risk the last of her inheritance on a farm lashed by wind and rain; removed from the pleasant distractions of late Victorian society and thrust into primitive living conditions, the Waters find themselves left with little to do but discover the strengths and weaknesses in themselves and in each other. Decades later during the Depression, Elise and Herbie Lester take over the farm and undergo their own transformations. Ripe with exhaustively researched period detail, Boyle’s epic saga of struggle, loss, and resilience (after When the Killing’s Done) tackles Pacific pioneer history with literary verve. The author subtly interweaves the fates of Native Americans, Irish immigrants, Spanish and Italian migrant workers, and Chinese fishermen into the Waters’ and the Lesters’ lives, but the novel is primarily a history of the land itself, unchanging despite its various visitors and residents, and as beautiful, imperfect, and unrelenting as Boyle’s characters. Agent: Georges Borchardt. (Sept.)
Library Journal
This latest novel from Boyle (The Women; When the Killing's Done) portrays two families living and working on barren San Miguel Island off the coast of California. In 1888 Marantha Waters leaves her comfortable life on mainland California and moves out to San Miguel with her adopted daughter and husband, a steely Civil War veteran convinced that he'll have success sheep ranching on the island. Marantha is seriously ill, but instead of breathing the clean, restorative air she expected, she must live in a drafty, moldy shack in a damp environment where the sun rarely shines. Years later, in 1930, Elise Lester, newly wed at 38, moves to San Miguel with her husband, Herbie, a World War I veteran. Though Herbie has his highs and lows, they are happy, and they have two daughters. The outside world learns of their pioneering ways, and they achieve a celebrity Herbie hopes will translate into additional income. Then World War II arrives, and with war in the Pacific, their insular island location may no longer be a refuge. VERDICT In this absorbing work, Boyle does an excellent job of describing the desperation and desolation of life on the island. Readers can almost feel the cold and damp seeping into their bones. [See Prepub Alert, 3/5/12.]—Shaunna Hunter, Hampden-Sydney Coll. Lib., VA
Kirkus Reviews
The prolific author's latest is historical, not only in period and subject matter, but in tone and ponderous theme. The 14th novel from Boyle returns to the Channel Islands off the coast of California, a setting which served him so well in his previous novel (When the Killing's Done, 2011). Some of the conflicts are similar as well--man versus nature, government regulation versus private enterprise--but otherwise this reads more like a novel that is a century or more old, like a long lost work from the American naturalist school of Frank Norris and Theodore Dreiser, both of whom saw mankind caught in mechanistic forces and nature as something other than the Eden of innocence so often romanticized. The novel tenuously connects the stories of two families who move, 50 years apart, to the isolation of the title island, in order to tend to a sheep ranch. For Marantha Waters, the symbolically fraught pilgrimage with her husband and daughter in 1888--on "New Year's Day, the first day of her new life, and she was on an adventure...bound for San Miguel Island and the virginal air Will insisted would make her well again"--is one of disillusionment and determination. Even the passage of time feels like a loss of innocence: "The days fell away like the skin of a rotten fruit"; "The next day sheared away like the face of a cliff crashing into the ocean and then there was another day and another." The ravages of the natural world (and their own moral natures) take their toll on the family, who are belatedly succeeded in the 1930s by a similar one, as newlyweds anticipate their move west as "the real life they were going into, the natural life, the life of Thoreau and Daniel Boone, simple and vigorous and pure." Reinforcing their delusions is national press attention, which made much of their "pioneering, that is, living like the first settlers in a way that must have seemed romantic to people inured to the grid of city streets and trapped in the cycle of getting and wanting and getting all over again." What may seem to some like paradise offers no happy endings in this fine novel.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101601228
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 9/18/2012
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 95,476
  • File size: 917 KB

Meet the Author

T. Coraghessan Boyle
T.C. Boyle is the author of fourteen novels and nine short story collections and is a member of the Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives near Santa Barbara, California.

Biography

In the interest of time and space, it might be easier to note the writers that T. C. Boyle isn't compared to. But let's give the reverse a try: Donald Barthelme, John Barth, Thomas Pynchon, Evelyn Waugh, Franz Kafka, James Joyce, Kingsley Amis, Thomas Berger, Robert Coover, Lorrie Moore, Stanley Elkin, Tom Robbins, Tom Wolfe, Hunter S. Thompson, Don DeLillo, Flannery O'Connor.

Oh, let's not forget F. Lee Bailey. And Dr. Seuss.

Boyle, widely admired for his acrobatic verbal skill, wild narratives and quirky characters (in one short story, he imagines a love affair between Dwight Eisenhower and Nikita Khrushchev's wife), has dazzled critics since his first novel in 1981.

Consider this example, from Larry McCaffery in a 1985 article for The New York Times: "Beneath its surface play, erudition and sheer storytelling power, his fiction also presents a disturbing and convincing critique of an American society so jaded with sensationalized images and plasticized excess that nothing stirs its spirit anymore.... It is into this world that Mr. Boyle projects his heroes, who are typically lusty, exuberant dreamers whose wildly inflated ambitions lead them into a series of hilarious, often disastrous adventures."

But as much as critics will bow at his linguistic gifts, some also knock him for resting on them a bit too heavily, hinting that the impressive showmanship attempts to hide a shortage of depth and substance.

Craig Seligman, writing in The New Republic in 1993, pointed out that "Boyle loves a mess. He loves chaos. He loves marshes and jungles, and he loves the jungle of language: luxuriant sentences overgrown with lianas of lists, sesquipedalian words hanging down like rare fruits. For all its exoticism, though, his prose is lucid to the point of transparency. It doesn't require much deeper concentration than a good newspaper (though it does require a dictionary)."

Reviewing The Tortilla Curtain in 1995, New York Times critic Scott Spencer scratched his head over why Boyle had invited readers along for this particular ride: "Mr. Boyle's fictional strategy is puzzling. Why are we being asked to follow the fates of characters for whom he clearly feels such contempt? Not surprisingly, this is ultimately off-putting. Perhaps Mr. Boyle has received too much praise for his zany sense of humor; in this book, that wit often seems merely a maddening volley of cheap shots. It's like living next door to a gun nut who spends all day and half the night shooting at beer bottles."

Growing up, Boyle had no aspirations to be a writer. It wasn't until his studies at State University of New York, where he as a music student, that he bumped into his muse. "I went there to be a music major but found I really couldn't hack that at the age of 17," he told The Writer in 1999. "I just started to read outside my classes -- literature and history. I wound up being a history and English major; when I wandered into a creative writing class as a junior, I realized that writing was what I could do."

He then started teaching, in part to avoid getting drafted into the Vietnam War, and later applied to the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop.

After a collection of short stories in 1979, he released his first novel, Water Music, called "pitiless and brilliant" by The New Republic, and has shuttled back and forth between novels and short stories, all known for their explosions of character imagination. Mr. Boyle's literary sensibility ... thrives on excess, profusion, pushing past the limits of good taste to comic extremes," McCaffery wrote in his 1985 New York Times piece. "He is a master of rendering the grotesque details of the rot, decay and sleaze of a society up to its ears in K Mart oil cans, Kitty Litter and the rusted skeletons of abandoned cars and refrigerators."

In his review of Drop City, the 2003 novel set in California commune that won Boyle a National Book Award nomination, Dwight Garner joins the chorus of critical acclaim over the years – "Boyle has always been a fiendishly talented writer" – but he also acknowledges some of the criticism that Boyle has faced in these same years.

"The rap against Boyle's work has long been that he's a sort of madcap predator drone, raining down hard nuggets of contempt, sarcasm and bitter humor on the poor men and women in his books while rarely giving us characters we're actually persuaded to feel anything about," he wrote. "This is partly a bum rap -- and I'd hate to knock contempt, sarcasm and bitter humor -- but there's enough truth in it that it's a joy to find, in Drop City that Boyle gives us a lot more than simply a line of bong-addled innocents led to slaughter."

But perhaps the neatest summary of Boyle's work would be from Lorrie Moore, one of the novelists to which he has been compared. In a 1994 New York Times review of Boyle's short story collection Without a Hero, she praised Boyle's "astonishing and characteristic verve, his unaverted gaze, his fascination with everything lunatic and queasy."

"God knows, Mr. Boyle can write like an angel," she continues later, "if at times a caustic, gum-chewing one. And in this strong, varied collection maybe we have what we'd hope to find in heaven itself (by the time we begged our way there): no lessening of brilliance, plus a couple of laughs to mitigate all that high and distant sighing over what goes on below."

Good To Know

Boyle changed his middle name from John to Coraghessan (pronounced "kuh-RAGG-issun") when he was 17.

He is known almost as much for his ego as his writing. "Each book I put out, I think, 'Goodbye, Updike and Mailer, forget it," The New Republic quoted him as saying. "I joke at Viking that I'm going to make them forget the name of Stephen King forever, I'm going to sell so many copies.

Boyle's philosophy on reading and writing, as told to The Writer: "Good literature is a living, brilliant, great thing that speaks to you on an individual and personal level. You're the reader. I think the essence of it is telling a story. It's entertainment. It's not something to be taught in a classroom, necessarily. To be alive and be good, it has to be a good story that grabs you by the nose and doesn't let you go till The End."

Read More Show Less
    1. Also Known As:
      T.C. Boyle
    2. Hometown:
      Santa Barbara California
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 2, 1948
    2. Place of Birth:
      Peekskill, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A. in music, State University of New York at Potsdam, 1970; Ph.D. in literature, Iowa University, 1977
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 10 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(2)

4 Star

(8)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2014

    Wow-Don't miss this

    This is one of THOSE books. A rugged story about strong people and hard times in a lonely and tough existence. Makes you wonder what you would do under extreme conditions in an extreme environment. I am reading it now. It is one of those books that you almost don't want to finish reading. Good for the soul!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted January 1, 2013

    Reccommend

    Interesting story, I love the way he writes but Tortilla Curtain is stilkl his best

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 20, 2012

    TC Boyle writes women well. The three women are much more compl

    TC Boyle writes women well. The three women are much more complex than the men they are bound to on an island that seems at first desolate but is as rich in its own ecosystem as the women are in their interior lives. A beautiful narrative. Not as funny as some other Boyle novels, but a very good read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 9, 2012

    sand and wind...lots of it..over time, circumstance, and generat

    sand and wind...lots of it..over time, circumstance, and generations....heard the wind..smelled the water..felt the sand in my face..experienced the toughness, the strength..and the weakness..through the anticipation, the rough realization...the culmination.....good, good read...enjoy it!...and be blessed

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 2, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent

    T.C. Boyle continues to amaze me with the variety of his novels. Each one is interesting and informative as well as entertaining. This novel is no exception. The tension of life on this isolated island and the people who inhabit it are very real.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted October 22, 2012

    recommend

    Enjoyed this novel. Would recommend it to anyone interested in romance that does not always turn out the way you want it to.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 22, 2012

    I don't even have to read it to know it's brilliant. I love the

    I don't even have to read it to know it's brilliant. I love the way each of his novels is so different. He is a fabulous writer.

    1 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted January 31, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)