After her graduation from St. Andrews in Scotland, a woman named Jude finds a summer job tutoring a 16-year-old boy on the tiny English Channel Island of Sark, where cars are illegal, the locals drive around on tractors, and feudalism existed until 2008. The Defoe family is as strange as the island: Eddy, the patriarch, is rarely home; his wife, Esme, almost never leaves her room and appears to subsist entirely on sparkling water; and their son, Pip, despite being a bright boy whose knowledge outstrips Jude’s, has no intention of completing the college exams for which she is allegedly preparing him. Jude is immediately drawn to Sofi, the family’s beautiful 19-year-old cook, and soon Jude, Sofi, and Pip are inseparable. Over the course of a magical summer, there’s very little tutoring and not a lot of cooking, but plenty of bicycling, night swimming, wine drinking, and bonding, in ways none of them anticipated. A few years later, all three have fallen out of touch, but each still struggles to fully understand the ways the summer, and their friendship, changed the courses of their lives. Rankin-Gee’s prose moves with a languid pace that vividly showcases Sark’s —as well as her characters’—peculiarities. Though the plot meanders and the island is populated with stock characters, hidden surprises and a beautifully written, bittersweet ending pack a vivid emotional punch.. (July)
A luminous, enchanting novel about friendship, loss, and love. Exquisitely written, beautifully told, THE LAST KINGS OF SARK is a world I won't soon forget.” Anton DiSclafani, New York Times bestselling author of The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls
“With THE LAST KINGS OF SARK, Rosa Rankin-Gee has woven an irresistible and heady spell of youth and summer, love and friendship. Her energetic prose and attention to sensual detail will keep you reading greedily until the last page and thinking about the characters long afterwards. What an enchanting debut.” Joanna Hershon, author of A Dual Inheritance and Swimming
“Rosa Rankin-Gee's The Last Kings of Sark is a cracklingly witty, earnestly heartbreaking novel about a young girl who is sent to be a tutor on a remote island as majestic and magical as Evelyn Waugh gone to Neverland. What begins as a reminiscence of a summer-to-remember, turns elegantly into a powerful story about what happens when you fall into a love that cannot be forgotten in three lifetimes.” Kristopher Jansma, author of The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards
“Funny, vivid, bittersweet.” Ned Beauman, author of The Teleportation Accident
“Rosa Rankin-Gee is a sophisticated stylist and her prose feels sharp and sleek. This is a book full of friendship and adventure and love and pigeons which fly out from pineapples. Like every great novel, it has magic at its core. It feels very modern too, like it has been written by a writer of a new time. Rankin-Gee is a writer we will all want to read again and again.” Monique Roffey, author of The White Woman on the Green and Archipelago
“A stunningly well-written first novel.
” The Times, UK
“Lithe, shimmering novel. . . ends explosively, but also with extreme tenderness, an unforgettable finale.” The Guardian, UK
“The past and present join together in a tale of a summer love that weaves its tendrils around three young hearts and still grows there decades later . . . create[s] vital characters and paint[s] wonderfully with words . . . interesting and thought-provoking.” Kirkus
“Rankin-Gee's prose moves with a languid pace that vividly showcases Sark's – as well as her characters' – peculiarities . . . hidden surprises and a beautifully written, bittersweet ending pack a vivid emotional punch.” Publishers Weekly
“Exploration of sexual identity and upended expectations . . . sure to send readers into contemplation of loves long gone and left more appreciative of them. As in Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, the narrator's awareness of storytelling conventions create opportunities to reflect on how memories form, and fans of Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife will enjoy the ebb and flow of time. Debut author Rankin-Gee's keen insights into romantic negotiations belie her youth. The confident narrative will be a shot in the arm for bored book club planners, and the fluid sexuality will be a welcome (if overdue) offering for readers of LGBT fiction.” Library Journal, starred review
“Rankin-Gee's tactile, mellifluous prose is on full display here, as the tiniest details help fully immerse readers in the otherworldly island setting . . . full of deep, unshakable bonds, twists of fate, and the power of nostalgia.” Booklist
“Freshly innocent and self-assured - each word seems chosen with extreme care.” New Yorker
The past and present join together in a tale of a summer love that weaves its tendrils around three young hearts and still grows there decades later.It’s the summer before 16-year-old Pip goes to university, and his father has hired two girls to spend July and August at their home on Sark—a British Channel island off the coast of Normandy. Twenty-one-year-old Jude arrives to tutor Pip; Sofi, 19, becomes the family’s cook. Pip’s ailing mother seldom ventures downstairs, so when Pip’s father is away on business, the three free themselves from responsibilities and explore the island and grow close. Summer drifts by and ends in a confused tangle—“a hot, melted knot”—the day before Jude flies home. Thus ends the first 29 chapters, originally written as a novella for which Rankin-Gee received the Shakespeare and Co. prize (2011); they reveal her ability to create vital characters and paint wonderfully with words. The three young people are well-drawn, and the dialogue is fresh and vibrant, but the story lacks a strong plot; it's a cerebral tale made up of Jude’s thoughts and sharp observations but one that lacks forward momentum. Later, Rankin-Gee added additional chapters, giving readers a peek into the subsequent lives of Jude, Sofi and Pip, each still affected by their long-ago summer on Sark. Alternating chapters narrated by each of the three characters serve to address the unasked question at the end of the first half of the novel: “So who loved whom, exactly?” But there's an odd sense of disjointedness: Answers are hinted at, alluded to, leaving the reader to make leaps; and though the final chapters provide some closure, they raise as many questions as they answer…which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.Readers who enjoy a slower-paced novel will find this character-driven tale interesting and thought-provoking.