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The idea of "historical fiction" has never appealed to me much, so that pretty much leaves T.C. Boyle out. However I went to a couple of his readings, and found him to be such a charming, humorous, intelligent guy that I really wanted to read one of his books. SAN MIGUEL sounded good, so it was my first T.C. Boyle read. I enjoyed this book enormously and felt that the performance was part of the reason why. Barbara Caruso did such a good job. The characters, location, and story of the two families living on the island of San Miguel were interesting and held my attention. This may have been my first book by T.C. Boyle, but it definitely won't be my last. Now I want to move on to WHEN THE KILLING'S DONE, which takes place in the same location.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
It’s been a while since the last time I read anything by Boyle. There was a period when I read a lot of him, but then I got caught up with new authors and well, you know how it goes. San Miguel had been on my wishlist for while so I just went for it and despite the mixed reviews it’s received, I enjoyed my time with it. I think I’ve said this before of Boyle, that he works better when he doesn’t have to drive a plot. When he can just tell a tale of what happens next with some really interesting characters, living in interesting places, doing interesting things. Even routine things he can make interesting and that’s what he does here. It reminded me strongly of Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose because of the setting and spirits of the women he wrote about. Some wanted to be where they were and pursuing their hard-scrabble lives on San Miguel. One didn’t and it was the combination of those separate personalities that reminded me of Susan Ward and her duality.
Some reviews comment that the stories are too loosely connected, but I found it wasn’t necessary for me to enjoy them and especially liked when Jimmy started up a story about Edith and her time on the island. It didn’t feel forced since you had to take the Jimmy in Elise’s story as the same one in Edith and Marantha’s. Plus it finished her tale, which had ended so abruptly. A few other characters pop up as well, to thread the stories, but each one focuses on the inhabitants and even more closely on the women. Yes, Captain Waters is a force on the island, and Herbie just skewers you from an emotional perspective, but really these are stories of women and their respective states of convalescence, confinement and contentment. Well done and well told.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful