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Island Hardcover – November 1, 2000

4.6 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"When I was twenty-eight I decided to kill my mother." This sixth book from Rogers (Promised Lands; Mr. Wroe's Virgins) is a caustically memorable literary shocker, built tightly around its antiheroic narrator. Abandoned at birth and shuttled among foster homes around Birmingham, Nikki Black (a name she chose for herself because it had "teeth") decided in her teens to remain at a children's home rather than suffer the ministrations of hypocritical caregivers. To call her unsympathetic is putting it mildly: the grown-up Nikki hates everyone, using whomever she needs for sex, sleeping space or money, and connecting emotionally with no one. She has one purpose in life: to find her real mother (listed on her birth certificate as Phyllis Lovage), ask her why she abandoned her, and then kill her. A financial windfall lets Nikki track Phyllis down to the small, remote Scottish island of Ayssar, where she rents her spare room out to boarders. Herself dying from cancer, Phyllis makes money by selling herbal remedies; she uses the funds to care for her slightly retarded son, Calum. Nikki rents the room and conceals her identity, the better to spy on, and then slay, her motherAand to win the affections of Calum. This novel's macabre plot is compelling enough, but Rogers's real talent lies in tone and psychologyAin Nikki's sometimes horrifying, sometimes nearly reasonable flights of fancy, and in the asides, details, folktales and anecdotes that percolate through the main narrative. Fans of Ian McEwan should relish this stylish, charismatic addition to Britain's gallery of antiheroes. (Nov.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Three archetypes collide in this darkly redemptive fairy tale by Rogers, author of Mr. Wroe's Virgins (1999) and Promised Lands (1997). Rogers weaves a spell with fractured myths through the angry narrative of Nikki Black. As a baby abandoned at a post office in the early hours of a cold morning, Nikki now seeks vengeance on the woman who left her. Searching for her mother and plotting her murder, she explains her life thus far in an extraordinary immediacy of voice. Nikki makes her way to an island off of Scotland. It is here, on a sea-tossed, mist-enshrouded rocky crag, that the fairy tale begins. But this is not children's hour--in these tales babies die and the witch is not so much wicked as enmeshed in her own unhappy epic. Nikki finds, with the aid of her newly found brother, the threads of her lost family. In doing so, she finds more than she is capable of understanding. Forced to take a stand, she turns once again to the powerful nature of myth to create her own, if not happy, than at least very satisfying end. It is left to the reader to decipher the meaning of the epiphany that unravels long after this deftly constructed tale is concluded. Neal Wyatt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 261 pages
  • Publisher: The Overlook Press; 1st edition (November 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585670766
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585670765
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,825,949 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I have seen this book ranked as of the ten best fiction books of 2000, and it certainly deserves it. I had not read Jane Rogers before, but here she proves that beautiful writing and easy, gripping reading can comfortably coexist. The story centers on a young woman given up for adoption at birth who has spent her life moving from one foster home to another. In the first sentence of the book she announces that she is going to find and kill her birth mother. She tracks her birth mother to an island off the Scottish coast, which proves to be a barren and windswept place of magic and fairy tales. Although the end is revealed in the prologue, this makes the book no less suspenseful and Rogers narration from inside the mind of the troubled protagonist is masterful. This is a hard book to put down and well worth reading.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Island is an interesting story about a clearly disturbed woman written from her viewpoint. As the story unfolds, you can see that she is damaged and even though forgiveness, understanding, and maybe healing are available to her, she is unable to let go of her hatred. The relationship that develops between her and her brother is disturbing and yet becomes the way to her accepting some peace. Having seen the movie , I was curious to read the book. Although the movie was very good, (Callum was played by the amazing Colin Morgan) the book was better. This is an unusual story, not for everyone, but worth reading. "R-rated" language alert.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The first person narrative of this novel, the character of Nikki Black is what makes this story so haunting and so engaging. She's funny and honest and her flashback to when she was growing up in foster care are compelling and sympathizing. Which is hard to do, as she is a totally unlikeable character. But somehow she grows on you, and if you can make it through her endless retelling of fairy tales, I promise its worth it to follow her to end. The film version of this novel is OK, the actors are exactly what I pictured as I read the novel, but the movie doesn't use the first person narration so its impossible to understand why Nikki does the things she does unless you've read the book. But overall I liked it and have given both the novel and the film version to others.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm terrible at writing reviews but if it means anything, this will be added to my exclusive list of favorite books (there's not a lot even though I've read my share).
Read it quite quickly because I just wanted to find out what happens more and more.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Alas, I came to this book via the film version which BTW is really very good. Nikki's character is unlikeable but not unsympathetic. Circumstances have caused her to counter feelings that negate her existence by what she might call a positive act of murdering the mother who abandoned her. Her conversion to a grounded human being who stops flying, flying and then constantly falling is subtle and rewarding. An act of sacrifice "truer than the truth" allows her to if not put aside her childhood, find a form of settlement and contentment she could never have imagined having arrived on the Island.
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Format: Paperback
The central theme of this terrific book is the archetype of the abandoned child and what a winding path we must find through the wood with no mother to guide us. Danger, betrayal, death and love: a good fairy tale for adults.
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