Exquisite retelling of The Tempest, set in a leper colony off the coast of Trinidad in 1961.
Inspector Mumsford has been called to the island of Chacachacare to investigate a rape allegation lodged against mixed-race teenager Carlos. English scientist Peter Gardner has filed the complaint on behalf of Virginia, his 15-year-old daughter. Gardner, a scientist exiled from Britain due to his experimental work on cloning body parts, landed at Chacachacare 12 years earlier, on the heels of a violent storm. Once there, Gardner and his young daughter met the orphaned Carlos, who remained in his family’s house along with the housekeeper, Lucinda, and her daughter, Ariana. Gardner used his cunning to take the house, treating the Trinidadians as servants. The five live there in almost complete isolation, as Gardner is afraid of contracting leprosy. He tutors Virginia in the history of the British empire, proclaiming English superiority and the imperfections of Caribbean flora and fauna. But conflict creeps into the enclave. Tempted by his daughter’s budding figure, Gardner protects her “virgin knot” by making Ariana his sexual slave. Drawn together by their fear of her father, Virginia and Carlos become friends and later sweethearts. When the scientist attempts to marry his teenage daughter to a rich American, Virginia and Carlos finally decide to stand up to the despot. The tale unfolds through the eyes of Mumsford, Carlos and Virginia, who desperately tries to understand her father. Nunez’s masterful story plays out against the backdrop of Trinidadian hopes for independence, achieved the following year.