Potentially this would have been the greatest idea for a novel – ever. Imagine an author explaining the roots of a Jamaican family , while using Shakespeare’s The Tempest as a backdrop. Also now and then there are chapters dedicated to storytelling. Sounds great? Unfortunately in reality this was a mighty disappointing read.
The book opens up properly in post war London where two Jamaican immigrant families are coming to grips with their race. We find out in one long interlude that their ancestors were the first governors of a Jamaican island that was inhabited by the witch Sycorax, her son Caliban and the spirit Ariel (here Warner takes liberties with The Tempest and actually devotes a lot to Sycorax’s background) The governors destroy everything and take over the island.
We jump to the present day and the families now are spread out and their daughters actually return to the Caribbean to find out about their past.
Like I mentioned before great idea but I did not like the execution, I found Warner’s style boring and I couldn’t care about the characters, Although the first hundred pages or so are very promising I struggled to keep myself from drifting off.
I don’t like slagging books off like this but now and then in a list of 1001 books you are bound to find the odd stinker or so.