Expected Publication Date: July 4, 2017
Format: E-book from netgalley
I thought this book was quite brilliant, very literary, and highly intriguing. It takes place over a few days, however, there are flashbacks to earlier times such that the reader gets a much longer and larger view into the lives of the characters.
The setting is July 1964 during the era of McCarthyism on Seven Island in northern Maine. Seven is a fictional island home to two very wealthy families whose history is interconnected dating back to the 1700s. In present day, each family owns a beautiful house on the island, one yellow and one white. There is a barn for the animals and outbuildings for the staff, all in bright red. The Hillsingers are in one house and the Quicks are in the other. Interestingly, although their histories are connected and the men of these houses married two sisters, their lives have been very separate until these 3 days spent on the island where past and present collide. There is a huge cast of characters which includes Billy Quick, Jim Hillsinger, their immediate families, their guests, and the staff. Within each chapter past and present are described and the narration jumps from one situation to another. At first I found this confusing and difficult to track, but fairly quickly on, I had figured out who was who and reading this book was like watching a movie unfold. It really had a cinematic quality of switching from one scene to another as in a movie. I can’t compare this quality of the book to another like it, it seemed quite unique. The effect was tantalizing and compelling, making this a very quick read. The storyline builds and compounds as the novel progresses reaching the crescendo point by the end.
I won’t say much more as I don’t want to give too much away. I would definitely recommend this book. It would make a great beach read as well as a great book club choice. It contains many historical elements without feeling like it is beating you over the head with them. They simply exist in the book only because they are important to explaining the characters and their situation. There are no wasted words in this novel. It is written succinctly, beautifully and intentionally. However, the reader, needs to pay close attention, or will miss something. In short, well written, well researched and well worth the read!
- John Wilkie says “Seven Island is impossible.” What does he mean by this? Why does lila enjoy this comment?
- In the ARC version, lila’s name is not capitalized while the other characters names are. Why do you think this is? What effect does it have on the reader?
- “We shall not all sleep” is part of 1 Corinthians “Behold, I tell you a mystery: we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” which is also part of the dedication of this novel. Explain the title and it’s meaning in the context of this novel.
- Jim Hillsinger’s father is referred to only as “Old Man.” Why do you think this is? Does this have the effect of building him up or diminishing him?
- Catta dreams of an eagle dropping out of the sky hunting a rabbit. Why do you think this it?
- Why was it important to Catta to know whether or not the eagles’ nest was a lie or not?
- Why was it important for the Old Man to have Catta spend the night on Baffin?
- Why does lila find herself now in love with Billy Quick when previously she had merely tolerated him? What has changed?
- In the final conversation between Jim and Billy, Billy is left with the impression that Jim had traded his wife for a list of names. What do you think the future holds for Billy, Jim and Lila? Where will there relationships go from here?
- Describe the character of James. Why does he get away with his violent schemes?