“Sometimes life is not funny, Richard.”
Ann Salter fled from her disastrous marriage to the beautiful land of Lanzarote which is in equal bouts critical of and dependent upon its tourist trade. However, her escape doesn’t free her from the ghosts of her troubled past. Memories of her husband, memories of her sister dog her at every turn even as her friendship with the enigmatic Richard and the mysterious local- Domingo- take her on an unexpected path to a new future.
This book belongs to genre that exists on the fringes and capitalizes on silence as its primary tool. There are no bangs or fireworks; a walk from a restaurant and back will make up an entire chapter and there is description that surrounds you at every turn of the page.
The author’s love for the island of Lanzarote is the first thing that leaps off the page at you. Initially, it captures you and draws you in; midway, when you’re craving for a story, you’re tempted to skip a few lines and towards the end, you’re as in love with it as the author herself. The island is not just a setting, but a primary character in this book and you’ll learn to hobble along with the story like a tourist on the first ride.
However, the best display of the author’s prowess comes across in the portrayal of her protagonist. She’s not the most likable of characters that you’ll come across, but, she’s not awful either. She’s human and she struggles; and she takes the reader along in her struggle as you try to understand why she’s drowning in her own mind and resist the urge the slap her out of it at times. Ann’s memories of her sister, though, I felt had been given a greater significance in her life than needed.
Penny’s domination of her younger sister, I could equate with my own and I spent many moments while reading the flashbacks, converting them into funny anecdotes shared over a dinner. But, Ann is sensitive and lacks the degree of humour that would’ve been required to view Penny’s shenanigans as funny. That made for a melancholic disposition which carried over and set the tone of the book in general.
My biggest complaint about this book is that very lack of sense of humour. But, the prose is poetic and very distinctive and it was a pleasure to read.
BOTTOMLINE: Ann’s introspection and my impatience don’t make for a healthy combination and so, for me, it’ll remain a one-time read. But, I look forward to more works by the author because her ability to paint a picture with her words is astounding. If you enjoy reading introspective pieces written in beautiful prose, then The Drago Tree is certainly the book for you.