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Stevenson Under The Palm Trees
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In the lush, uninhibited atmosphere of Samoa, Robert Louis Stevenson is languishing with the disease that will soon kill him; when a chance encounter with the mysterious Scottish missionary, Mr Baker, turns his thoughts back to his conservative, post-Reformation Edinburgh home. As Stevenson's meetings with the tantalizingly nebulous missionary become increasingly strange, a series of crimes against the native population sours the atmosphere. With its playful nod to Stevenson's life and work Manguel has woven an intoxicating tale in which fantasy infiltrates reality.
Product Details

A deeply disturbed Robert Louis Stevenson, in the last year of his life, becomes embroiled in the investigation of the rape and murder of a Samoan woman, as well as a case of arson, in this intriguing, if slight, tale from Argentinean-born writer Manguel (A History of Reading). When the depressed Stevenson reveals the darkness of his mood to his wife through his latest fiction, she castigates him. He then burns the manuscript in a fireplace. Mr. Baker, a Scottish missionary of perhaps overzealous intent, makes Stevenson's acquaintance as the story begins and is there at the end to render an explanation for the mayhem an explanation that won't come as much of a surprise to those familiar with one of Stevenson's best-known novels. A fine stylist, Manguel punctuates the story with hyper-real descriptions of Samoa and Stevenson's memories of Edinburgh. The woodcuts by Stevenson himself that decorate the text add visual appeal, but this novelette will appeal more to readers of historical fiction than to crime fans. Agent, Bruce Westwood. (Oct. 18) FYI: Manguel's new work of nonfiction, A Reading Diary (Forecasts, June 28), will be published the same month. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

About the Author

Internationally acclaimed as an essayist and novelist, Alberto Manguel is also a prize-winning translator and has edited ten anthologies. Author of the award-winning A History of Reading, News from a Foreign Country Came and Stevenson Under the Palm Trees, his most recent book is A Reading Diary. Born in Buenos Aires, he has lived in Italy, England, Tahiti and Canada, and now lives in France, where he was named an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters.

Reviews

A deeply disturbed Robert Louis Stevenson, in the last year of his life, becomes embroiled in the investigation of the rape and murder of a Samoan woman, as well as a case of arson, in this intriguing, if slight, tale from Argentinean-born writer Manguel (A History of Reading). When the depressed Stevenson reveals the darkness of his mood to his wife through his latest fiction, she castigates him. He then burns the manuscript in a fireplace. Mr. Baker, a Scottish missionary of perhaps overzealous intent, makes Stevenson's acquaintance as the story begins and is there at the end to render an explanation for the mayhem an explanation that won't come as much of a surprise to those familiar with one of Stevenson's best-known novels. A fine stylist, Manguel punctuates the story with hyper-real descriptions of Samoa and Stevenson's memories of Edinburgh. The woodcuts by Stevenson himself that decorate the text add visual appeal, but this novelette will appeal more to readers of historical fiction than to crime fans. Agent, Bruce Westwood. (Oct. 18) FYI: Manguel's new work of nonfiction, A Reading Diary (Forecasts, June 28), will be published the same month. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

* Questioning a novelist in search of the theme of the double, Alberto Manguel has written a novel that is a masterpiece of the literature of today. La Marseillaise (France) * Stevenson Under the Palm Trees, under the pretence of being a crime story, is really a dark reflection on the power of our dreams ... a finely crafted jewel. Folha de Sao Paulo (Brazil)

In this tale of internal conflict and external violence, Manguel-a literary scholar with an eclectic list of publications under his belt-has assembled a mystery based on the published letters of Robert Louis Stevenson. The setting is the South Sea island of Samoa, where Stevenson spent the final years of his life. In fact, Stevenson and his wife, Fanny, are among the central characters. By imagining a string of events that could have happened within the lush tropical setting, Manguel gives the reader a scenario that hints of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The question seems to lurk around the corners: could this island be so steamy, sensual, and seductive that it actually causes these acts of passion? The shadowy figure of a Scottish missionary appears on the island and manages to stir up all those aforementioned internal conflicts. More of a short story than a novella, this mystery is distinguished by small woodcut prints attributed to Stevenson himself. For larger academic libraries and specialized collections that include Stevenson's works. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/04.]-Susanne Wells, P.L. of Cincinnati & Hamilton Cty. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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