Stevenson Under the Palm Trees (Hardcover)
Canongate Us, 9781841955889, 105pp.
Publication Date: September 9, 2004
Casting Robert Louis Stevenson as his protagonist, Alberto Manguel, author of the international best-selling A History of Reading, spins an intoxicating murder mystery in the South Pacific that echoes Joseph Conrad and A. S. Byatt.
Robert Louis Stevenson has become accustomed to the intense colors and severe humidity of Samoa, as well as the uninhibited earthiness of its people. Yet his thoughts turn nostalgically back to his native Edinburgh after a chance encounter with the newly arrived Scots missionary, Mr. Baker. The stark contrast between Stevenson's restrained past and the fecund sensuality of the island becomes a pivot point in Stevenson's consciousness. Everything sours, though, when a young Samoan woman for whom Stevenson privately pined is raped and murdered. The mysterious Mr. Baker presents himself at the center of the investigation as Stevenson suddenly becomes suspicious to his once-admiring islanders.
With a playful nod to Stevenson's life and magnificent fictions, Alberto Manguel has weaved together a compelling tale among the palm trees of the South Pacific.