This book has some blurbs on it that might speak to its influences, but not to its successes. We meet a couple on a small island country in the Pacific, an island divided into three very different principalities. The couple arrives and immediately becomes embroiled in some amount of local intrigue, but more so become the targets of a wayward American who eventually the wife in the couple sleeps with. In theory this would create a kind of love triangle, but in practice, because the wife is significantly older than the much frailer husband, this is a more complex relationship, or at least a much less, immediately disastrous one. The resulting tension comes from the young American’s increasing sense of entitlement to the wife’s affections and attentions.
But, because this is a more literary endeavor than a thriller one, those tensions tend to be more understated, less than liminal, and more fraught as we go forward, and because this is a literary novel and not a thriller, the inevitable fallout happens in much more recognizable ways. I don’t ultimately think this novel is as successful as those influences listed on the front, which include Graham Green and Paul Bowles primarily. I also don’t know why this novel….exists? I am not sure there are obvious questions about American couples’ roles in island countries as presented here that make for a novel that speaks to its own existence here, especially in 1998?
So I am let down and perplexed ultimately by this one.