By Marianne Wiggins
(Simon & Schuster, Paperback, 9780671039554, 224pp.)
Publication Date: December 1, 1999
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Charlotte Lewes, a young Briton newly widowed by the Great War, departs for colonial Burma in 1917 to escape the ruins of her life. As a schoolteacher in Rangoon she is rejuvenated by the sensuous Oriental climate, and she meets John Dollar, a sailor who becomes her passionate love and whose ill-fated destiny inextricably binds her to him.
On a festive seafaring expedition, the tightly knit British community confronts disaster in the shape of an earthquake and ensuing tidal wave. Swept overboard, Charlotte, John Dollar, and eight young girls who are Charlotte's pupils awake on a remote island beach. As they struggle to stay alive, their dependence on John overwhelms him, and an atmosphere of menace and doom builds, culminating in shocking and riveting scenes of both death and survival.
Marianne Wiggins is the author of seven books of fiction including John Dollar and Evidence of Things Unseen. She has won an NEA grant, the Whiting Writers' Award, and the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, and she was a National Book Award finalist in fiction for Evidence of Things Unseen.
What is it about the human spirit? Even in the most emotionally and physically trying times, somehow, it is able to remain victorious. Author Susan Choi recommends three tales of struggle and, ultimately, of those who achieve great feats in the face of adversity. More at NPR.org
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San Francisco Chronicle
Richly imaginative...pure adventure.
The Washington Post Book World A superb novel, hypnotic, disturbing, and artful...so good that most readers will devour it in one gulp.
New York Newsday At her best the incantatory Marianne Wiggins goes beyond magical to sheer demonic possession.
The New York Times A powerful story that not only pulls you through to its final pages but also propels you back to the beginning again, where you find you want to follow her descent into hell a second time.
Los Angeles Times Book Review Marianne Wiggins' power is disjunctive, disruptive; she pounds the atoms of discourse until they split and go radioactive....Wiggins writes with a feverish brilliance...close to prophetic brilliance.
The Washington Post Book World Marianne Wiggins dares to make fictions that stand in the face of heart-cracking circumstance, fictions that, in fact, resound with hearts shattering.
Booklist Wiggins is one of those critically acclaimed authors whose books acquire passionate followings...who find passion to be a source of both salvation and gothic nightmare.
London Sunday Times Marianne Wiggins does not so much tell a story as make her reader live it.... She renews our sense of what prose fiction can be.
The New York Times Book Review In making us see her characters' humanity, she also compels us to acknowledge our shared yearning and sense of loss.