A BREATH OF AIR by Rumer Godden


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The publishers define this as a modern Tempest. True enough, in that castaways from the bustling outer world find refuge on an unchartered island -- and find, too, the overlord of the island, a man from their own world who has shed the bondage of material things at home, only to acquire vast riches for which he has no use, vast power over the more or less helpless natives of the island, and vast disdain for anything that reminds him of the past. With him in his retreat is a lovely daughter, who has been educated in the vacuum of only mental acceptance of things taught- and no experience, no companions other than the semi -enslaved island folk. And among the local inhabitants, there is one rebel, who has learned along with the daughter -- and one half breed, a Caliban-sort-of-person, who lays claims to the island which his mother had once controlled. The castaways seem answer to prayer. Charis needed a mate. Filipino needed to know some other young men like himself. The island people needed to regain their own rights. Here is an idyllic tale, with less of the perceptiveness, the authenticity of exploring the emotional factors, than one associates with Rumer Godden -- but with her imaginative quality, the skilled craftmanship and originality of her style, the artistry of her story-telling. Where another writer might have made the symbolism, the parallels, into a contrived and artificial tale, Rumer Godden has woven into it much of her own magic.

Publisher: Viking