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San Miguel


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The biggest novel yet from the master of American fiction, the New York Times bestselling author of The Women, T.C. Boyle. A New York Times Notable Book 2012.

About the Author

T. C. Boyle's novels include World's End, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, The Tortilla Curtain, the New York Times bestseller, The Women and, most recently, When the Killing's Done. His work has been translated into twenty-five languages and he is a member of the Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in California.


Boyle is a writer who chooses a large canvas and fills it to the edges * Barbara Kingsolver *
An involving historical read and yet another illustration of this author's astonishing range. There seems to be no subject or genre that Boyle won't tackle with brio -- Lionel Shriver * Guardian, Books of the Year *
Boyle tells an extraordinary story of human weakness and survival, with high intelligence and a terrific eye for detail -- Kate Saunders * The Times *
Though I generally shy from flap-copy hyperbole of this sort, T. C. Boyle is by far and away one of the most inventive, adventurous and accomplished fiction writers in the US today ... Most of all, he is a mesmerising storyteller, which is magnificently on display in his latest, San Miguel ... a dense, lushly detailed novel .... marking the exceptionally fine lines in San Miguel would have entailed underscoring the entire text ... this isn't a review, really. It's a love letter -- Lionel Shriver * Financial Times *
A history novel of almost heroic restraint, its prose remains resolutely unflashy, and its tone is sympathetic to the point of genuine warmth ... a touching, even gripping allegory of the doomed nature of human striving -- James Walton * Spectator *
A bareback ride into the abyss -- Tom Cox * Observer *
His evocations of landscape are vivid and he can dream up a cast of characters -- Belinda McKeon * Guardian *
[A] fine new novel ... He is [...] masterful at presenting this enclosed world, and he examines the debilitating effects of isolation on men and women -- Philip Womack * Daily Telegraph *
It's extraordinarily direct, sympathetic and pretty, with Boyle's characteristic aliveness to the past and its telling little details -- Todd McEwen * Glasgow Sunday Herald *
Mesmerising and elegiac ... Boyle skilfully captures that tension-filled quietude in the pared-down, mundane details of cleaning, cooking, caring for livestock and enduring the tedium of unchanging days * Scotsman *
Permeated with an elegiac tone ... Atmospherically it is resonant of The Piano, Jane Campion's passionate novel of pioneering tenacity ... A powerful meditation on the skirmish between character and circumstance in these marginal lives in America's history * Independent *

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.

This latest novel from Boyle (The Women; When the Killing's Done) portrays two families living and working on barren San Miguel Island off the coast of California. In 1888 Marantha Waters leaves her comfortable life on mainland California and moves out to San Miguel with her adopted daughter and husband, a steely Civil War veteran convinced that he'll have success sheep ranching on the island. Marantha is seriously ill, but instead of breathing the clean, restorative air she expected, she must live in a drafty, moldy shack in a damp environment where the sun rarely shines. Years later, in 1930, Elise Lester, newly wed at 38, moves to San Miguel with her husband, Herbie, a World War I veteran. Though Herbie has his highs and lows, they are happy, and they have two daughters. The outside world learns of their pioneering ways, and they achieve a celebrity Herbie hopes will translate into additional income. Then World War II arrives, and with war in the Pacific, their insular island location may no longer be a refuge. VERDICT In this absorbing work, Boyle does an excellent job of describing the desperation and desolation of life on the island. Readers can almost feel the cold and damp seeping into their bones. [See Prepub Alert, 3/5/12.]-Shaunna Hunter, Hampden--Sydney Coll. Lib., VA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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