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The Fortunate Isles: A Novel Hardcover – October, 1989


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 1st edition (October 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0397323654
  • ISBN-13: 978-0397323654
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,002,181 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7-12-- These people-living-on-a-doomed-volcanic-island may have Greek-sounding names, but they are not Greeks, and this is not Atlantis, Townsend carefully explains in a prefatory note. So here readers are in Townsend's schema, even though some of the dialogue would lead them to swear that they were in Britain in 1989. Eleni, with her atypically black hair and blue eyes (nobles have blond hair and blue eyes; plebians have black hair and dark eyes), is the Messenger. And it has been prophesied that the Messenger will save the people of Eleni's isle from oppression and starvation and see the Living God. Eleni sets off for the home of the Living God and the royal family, even though she is not a believer. She travels in the company of Andreas, a believer, and Nikos, who wants to see "a bit of life" and make his fortune singing. Eleni sees the Living God but doesn't become a believer, and she learns that she is the daughter of the king. A lot happens: "All this kinging and godding," is what Eleni calls it. One keeps reading to find out what happens next, and readers will probably be willing to accept the few points of convenient coincidence (what really happens to Nikos when he is snatched away on one page and re-appears out of the blue about 130 pages later). There is some fine, even delectable, active narration in the first two chapters: ". . .Eleni. . .added a few remarks about his appearance and parentage. The man compared her to various female animals, indicating that the latter were cleaner and physically more attractive." But Townsend then slips into reportage in which readers merely observe and are asked to imagine that Eleni in fact becomes the Living God. And yet when asked about her beliefs, she replies: "I just honestly don't know." Could one remain unaffected by that variety of religious experience? In the end, this narrative distancing leaves readers as unaffected as Eleni. Townsend entertains with this fantastic adventure, but shouldn't all this kinging and godding signify something?--: Christina L. Olson, Beverly Hills Public Library
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Format: Hardcover
This book is an intriguing mix. Part coming-of-age story, part quest, with a vaguely fantasy-feel, it is not quite like any other book I have ever read (and I have read quite a few). The main character of the story, Eleni, is very matter-of-fact and practical, and, while she has pride, she does not let it get in the way of her common sense. Raised on one of the isles most distant from the capital, her life begins to change when Prince Helos comes to visit her island in an effort to muster troops for his father's latest war, further evidence that the Fortunate Isles have become increasingly less fortunate in recent years. She herself is of noble blood, she knows that much, but nothing else really, since her mother refuses to tell her who her father is. Eleni is different from other heroines, though, in that she doesn't really seem to care overly much either way about who her father is and, as she puts it, her having blue eyes never did her much good either way. Also, she has no great yearning to see the "world".

However, a prophecy surfaces which the local priest and his helper, Andreas (Eleni's friend who she wouldn't mind being more than friends with) are certain refers to Eleni (who has her doubts about their conclusion that she is destined to be the Messanger to the Living God and thus the one to save the Isles) ends up sending her on a quest far from her village. She, Andreas, and Nikos the son of the wealthiest man on the island, embark on a journey for the royal city of Malama, and the mountain of the Living God. They encounter various mishaps, from slave traders to scheming village priests, and Eleni begins to realize that the Isles are in a lot more trouble than she had ever realized, and she may be the one who's supposed to do something about it afterall.
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