Island Magic is split between detailed and enjoyable characterizations and florid, flowery, overblown prose that eventually creates the desire put down the book and go read a computer manual as an antidote.
A boat approachs The Island:
“Now they were slipping along beside the Island. It lay on the sea like a sleeping animal, the rocks at ists northern end stretched out like claws.”
A room where two characters often talk:
“They sat down together on the ‘jonquiere.’ The oil lamp, burning low on the the table, was reflected in the copper warming-pans and the dark oak of the table. All the willow pattern plates held a friendly gleam of light, and the old clock ticked companionably. The room was used to these two sitting there on the ‘jonquiere’ and talking, sometimes late into the night. It welcomed them and endeavoured to be helpful, the clock remarking monotonously that the nibbling seconds make an end of all things, even life, and the reflected lights replying warmly that there are certain things, seemingly unsubstantial, that cannot die, since their reflector is eternal.”
I enjoyed the characters in this book, most of whom were fully explored. However long discourses on their interior dialogue (not the interior dialogue itself, which would have been much more to the point) and emotional strains caused me to skip quite a few boring passages.
“The Isand” has no name, but has been French and is now English. The folk who live there are fishermen and farmers except for the few professionals required of any town: a doctor, judge, policeman. The doctor is a cruel and domineering man, whose two sons disappoint his aims for them. One marries his love and becomes a farmer, rather than a professional, and the other disappears to the sea, never to be seen again. Or is he?
The plot is a simple Prodigal Son theme and fairly predictable. The farmer son, Andre, has married his sweetheart and fathered five children. It’s the children who bring life and interest to the book. How they solve their problems, how they agonize and triumph, is what makes the book worthwhile.
I made it through Island Magic. I even enjoyed much of it. When I picked up A City of Bells by the same author and began to read, I realized I did not have the stamina to wade through so much cloying verbiage.