Book Review by Fran Clark
Published in 2021, I somehow missed this one coming out but luckily came across it a little before Christmas. Considering the subject matter of my own book series, I was thrilled to find This Other Island by Steffanie Edward, and couldn't wait to dive in.
I wasn't sure what to expect, apart from knowing the premise, as I hadn't heard of this author before but the reviews were really good and I had to purchase it.
It was billed as 'heartbreaking' so I was all ready with my tissues and a strong cup of herbal tea.
Before I begin my book review of This Other Island, here is a the book description, as shown on Amazon:
St Lucia, 28 July 1961. The day my father and mother boarded a ship called the Carlotta C. The day my story began, the day my truth started to disappear…
When Yvette receives a call saying her estranged father, Joe, is fighting for his life in hospital, she rushes to his side. She’s determined to have him back in her life and to forgive him for walking out on her and her mother so many years ago. But when she arrives she doesn’t find the larger-than-life father she remembers. Joe seems broken; haunted by the past. So, when he begs Yvette to help him find the truth, she knows she must…
Since stepping off the ship that brought him with Yvette’s mother, Doli, from the sunny, picturesque island of St. Lucia, with its tranquil Caribbean seas and air fragrant with the scent of tropical fruits, to start new lives in a cold and unwelcoming Britain, Joe has carried a dark secret. For years, he’s believed he might have killed a man on the ship. A man who had had feelings for Doli too. A man who could perhaps help Yvette answer questions she didn’t even know needed answering.
When she asks her mother for help with tracking him down, Doli is uncharacteristically quiet. Yvette wonders if finding the truth might break their relationship, but she can’t stop; daren’t let her papa down. As she sorts through old passports and shipping records, Yvette knows she has to unravel this secret history of love and betrayal, loyalty and sacrifice.
Will uncovering the truth tear their fragile family apart or bring them back together?
The beginning of the book is a slow burn. It won't come at you with action packed scenes but with plenty of drama and intrigue. The chapters are written in the point of view of the three main characters and Edward pens each with the individuality of the character, making a smooth transition between chapters that is clear and draws the reader in without effort. Though very clearly defined, the players are not predictable and there are surprises to be had by them.
I loved Edward's use of language in this novel. Very often she uses descriptive language that paints a clear picture of the settings and transports you, unknowingly, into the pages.
I really enjoyed the scenes set in St Lucia. When it comes to the language of the characters, I loved that the use of St Lucian Kweyol and how Edward made it easy for anyone who doesn't speak the language to follow the text. Some authors add in foreign languages with no explanation and sometimes with no real reason as it doesn't enhance the story. Here, though, the Kweyol added an extra touch.
The book's beauty is the strength of the plotting and the way the big reveals come pouring out with such intensity and magnitude it is hard to put the book down towards the end. I kept turning the page even though I do most of my reading before bed and was becoming quite tired. The very late night I finished the book was well worth it.
This is a book based on realistic people, plots and conversations. Edward has a good knack of making usual situations exciting and dramatic and that's what I loved the most.
As an author I applaud her skills and cant wait to get stuck into her next novel, My Mother's Gift and hope that there will be more to come.
I would categorise this book as women's fiction, 20th century historical fiction, Caribbean fiction and a great book for book clubs. I highly recommend This Other Island and you can find out more about the author here.
Did you know I send out a monthly newsletter and occasional news updates? Why not hop onto my mailing list for a free read and a deeper delve? Click here!