The schooner from Santa Barbara arrives at the tiny, desolate island on New Year's Day, 1888. As the trunks are unloaded onto the wet sand, thirty-eight-year-old Marantha Waters looks at the cliffs falling away into the churning sea. This is the first day of her new life on San Miguel. Joined by her husband, a fiercely possessive Civil War veteran ...
The schooner from Santa Barbara arrives at the tiny, desolate island on New Year's Day, 1888. As the trunks are unloaded onto the wet sand, thirty-eight-year-old Marantha Waters looks at the cliffs falling away into the churning sea. This is the first day of her new life on San Miguel. Joined by her husband, a fiercely possessive Civil War veteran who will take over the operation of the sheep ranch on the island, Marantha strives to persevere in the face of brutal isolation. But the constant wind and sheep-ravaged wasteland shatter her illusions; her husband promised paradise. As he obsessively resolves to stay - and becomes increasingly distant from her and their adopted daughter Edith - Marantha's blighted lungs grow weaker in the dampness. Two years later, Edith, now a spirited teenager and an aspiring actress, will exploit every opportunity to escape the captivity her father has imposed on her. March, 1930. Another family - and another bride - arrives on San Miguel. Elise Lester, a librarian from New York City, and her husband Herbie, a World War I veteran full of manic energy, achieve a celebrity of sorts as the news cameras take an interest in these wayward people living in the wild. But the unyielding island is haunted by its history. Will the family be able to cling together as the war threatens to pull everything apart? San Miguel is a vivid and gripping story of hard lives pitched against the elements, the desires of stubborn men and the unbearable burden of love, from master American storyteller T. C. Boyle.
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Publishers Weekly, 2012-07-30 On New Year's Day 1888, the ailing Marantha Waters sails across San Francisco Bay to remote San Miguel Island with her second husband and adopted daughter in hopes that the fresh air will restore her health. Marantha and her family, city folk by nature, risk the last of her inheritance on a farm lashed by wind and rain; removed from the pleasant distractions of late Victorian society and thrust into primitive living conditions, the Waters find themselves left with little to do but discover the strengths and weaknesses in themselves and in each other. Decades later during the Depression, Elise and Herbie Lester take over the farm and undergo their own transformations. Ripe with exhaustively researched period detail, Boyle's epic saga of struggle, loss, and resilience (after When the Killing's Done) tackles Pacific pioneer history with literary verve. The author subtly interweaves the fates of Native Americans, Irish immigrants, Spanish and Italian migrant workers, and Chinese fishermen into the Waters' and the Lesters' lives, but the novel is primarily a history of the land itself, unchanging despite its various visitors and residents, and as beautiful, imperfect, and unrelenting as Boyle's characters. Agent: Georges Borchardt. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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