Isle of Passion
By Laura Restrepo
Ecco, Hardcover, 9780060088989, 272pp.
Publication Date: October 1, 2005
List Price: $24.95*
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Base on true events, this brilliantly rendered novel recounts a dramatic tale of survival, and a woman's determination to triumph over a harrowing fate.
In 1908, Mexican captain Ramon Arnaud and his young bride, Alicia, set sail for Clipperton, a tiny Pacific atoll once dubbed "Isle of Passion" by Spanish explorers. Accompanied by eleven soldiers and their families, the captain is under orders to defend the isolated but strategically well situated island against an improbable French invasion. With its treacherous coral reef and stagnant lagoon, Clipperton is a dire, forbidding place for the new inhabitants. Rigid military order soon gives way to more informal island living, but under Ramon's guidance and inspired by Alicia's determination the group manages to create a viable community. There are a food store, pharmacy, lighthouse, even dinner parties. But then, amid political upheaval at home and the first rumblings of World War I, the Clipperton residents are forgotten. The supply ship slated to come every two months comes every third, then sixth, then not at all. Left to the mercies of nature and each other, they fall victim one by one to scurvy, hunger, despair, rivalry, lust and, ultimately, violence.
Alicia, steadfast and resourceful, becomes a beacon of strength for the remaining castaways, whose collective survival will depend upon her courage and cunning. Drawing on historical records, archives and interviews, prize-winning novelist Laura Restrepo has reimagined the incredible true story of love and war, hardship and endurance, adventure and hope on the Isle of Passion. In prose that is lush, evocative and utterly beguiling, she brings to life a bizarre, moving episode in Mexican history and its extraordinary, unforgettable heroine.
“This extraordinarily gripping novel communicates surprising lessons on the human condition. Highly recommended.”
-Library Journal (Starred Review)
“[A] finely wrought work.”
-Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Restrepo charts a wide and intense range of human experience in this compelling story of castaways.”
Arguably [Restrepo’s] best: a ripping yarn that recreates an obscure historical incident…. Vivid and entertaining.