Book Reviews & Essays on Literature

Island of Wings, by Karin Altenberg

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Quercus Books, London, UK, 2011

Island of Wings has faith, love and alienation as its themes. What a pleasure this dry-looking novel turned out to be; very gripping and thought-provoking in plot, characterization and setting, yet restrained and subtle in writing style. This book looks unglamorous, with a plain printed hard cover illustrated with an engraving of a sailing ship on rough seas. There was mention in the blurb on the back of the book of some haunting, or fearsome thing, on the island where the novel is set, the islands of St. Kilda, the westernmost islands of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, as northern and as remote a place as you could find outside of the Arctic Circle. The reader finds out, not so much during the novel as towards the end, what the haunting is that drives the young evangelical minister from the Church of Scotland to the islands, and again, off the islands. What changes during his time there, and what does he and his wife achieve?  (Continue reading…)

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