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LITTLE ISLAND: A novel ~Katharine Britton

Monday, May 26th, 2014

“How many of us live lives driven by rules and assumptions that we never test?  I stood a moment, watching the tide slip out through the channel, feeling a new sense of freedom and an understanding that we are only as stuck as we allow ourselves to be.”   Joy Little


The Little family is gathering at the family’s Inn for a memorial service for their maternal grandmother.  LITTLE ISLAND is a story about that Inn, the family which has been there for generations, and of the people who are connected to this family.  The family Inn is connected to the mainland of Maine by a causeway and the family has to be fully aware of the tides and the rules of nature. The Little family has experienced loss, a major tragedy and they have a wealth of secrets which keep them holding on to old assumptions and communications.

Joy is the narrator of LITTLE ISLAND and we see the family through her eyes and thinking.  She is the second born child, but holds the role as the oldest because baby Abigail died.  Joy’s partner is not at the weekend event because he is driving their only child to college.  She has an emptiness and is attempting to fill in the gap and tackle her sense of loss.  This weekend is also the 20th anniversary of a drunken driving accident which killed Joy’s best friend.  The family rarely talks about this event, though it is part of every moment of their lives.

Tamar and Roger are the twins and in LITTLE ISLAND twins are a big part of the story.  Roger is not married and has no children, but he is hoping his father will consider him “grown up” enough to take over the Inn for the family legacy.  Tamar is a lawyer who brings her twin daughters to the weekend without her husband so she can prove that she is a good mother. The reader can sense that divorce will be a part of her future.  She is hoping that Joy will take charge of the twins and provide childcare so that she can just be herself and not be responsible.  Tamar adores Roger and wants all his time; to be as close as they were as children.

Gar Little is the owner of the Inn and part of that family tree and he is busy keeping the family involved in traditions at the Inn and all the property issues that need repair and he wants his family to carry on the Inn’s legacy – his work is very physical and demanding.  Grace, the wife and mother, does a great deal of cooking and childcare while trying to figure out her mother’s wishes for a memorial service from a rather cryptic, short list she found.  Grace takes us on several memorable hikes, sharing the beauty of the island and her love of her home.

The writing is very beautiful and the capture of emotions and conversations are wonderful. I loved the moments of humor that the family shared.  The family peeled back the layers in short, little bursts and they did not yell or hit with their angers. Lots of good thinking and actions were part of the story. When there proved to be enough little reveals, they just stopped hiding and let go of the secret; it took a big event to pull them back together. LITTLE ISLAND provided the catalyst for discovery and resolution.  Each character was ready to let go and move forward.

tlc logo  TLC Online book tours sent me this book for review.  The writing was so thoughtful, hopeful, and I just held onto the story – I am sure I will want to read this book again – LITTLE ISLAND.

There is a reader’s guide for book groups included with this story.

The author lives in Vermont and teaches at the Institute of Lifelong Education at Dartmouth College.
Katharine Britton Online
Katherine Britton on Facebook

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The Moon Sisters
My Mother’s Funeral
Coincidence
In The Land of the Living