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The Love Island Bookshop by Kate Frost #Review #ARomanticEscapeBook

 If you can't fly over to the Maldives at the moment, how about escaping there through the pages of a book? Kate Frost's The Love Island Bookshop was published on 8th April by Lemon Tree Press. A dream job, two handsome men, one destructive act. Will Freya’s opportunity of a lifetime end in tears? When Freya leaves her publishing job in London to be a barefoot bookseller in the Maldives, it’s the push she needs to move on from her sadness and reignite her passion for life. While resort owner Zander is charming, it’s handsome dive instructor Aaron who befriends her when she needs it most. But all is not what it seems and there’s trouble brewing in paradise. Taking a chance on happiness is harder than she imagined. Can Freya let go of her heartache and allow herself to fall in love again? My Thoughts  Yes this novel certainly lived up to its series, A Romantic Escape . What could be blissful than spending the Summer on a remote island in the Maldives? Well, running the

Moonstone: the boy who never was by Sjón

Winner of the Icelandic Literary Prize and the Icelandic Bookseller's Prize for Novel of the Year 2013. Translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb.

Moonstone is a short novella of 142 pages, mainly set in the Iceland of 1918. Catastrophic events are happening inside and outside the country. The Great War is nearing its end and inside the country, the volcano Katla, is erupting ominously. Life in Reyjavik is torn apart by an outbreak of Spanish Flu, brought in on a foreign ship, which is decimating the population. Iceland is undergoing transformation and becoming a sovereign independent country.

     Máni, the central figure, is a young, gay teenager, detached from mainstream life. Orphaned as a child, he has been taken in by an old woman, said to be his great grandmother's sister. He earns money by working as a male prostitute. He is obsessed with the imported films he sees in the new, local cinema and visualises life as if it exists on the screen. Everyone seems to be objectified. Some sections of the story are in the form of dream sequences and it feels as if there is a blurring of fact and fiction which unsettles the reader. 

    Written as a series of short fragments, over the course of a few  months, Moonstone has a poetic feel. You feel that each word has been carefully chosen. There is nothing superfluous in any of the sentences. It is hard when reading a book in translation to know if the rhythms and cadences in the text reflect the feel of the original. I found some of the scenes brutal and difficult to read and so estranged from life was Máni that I found it difficult to empathise with him. I couldn't help but remember Camus' La Peste as the Spanish Flu took hold. 

In short:  a life splintered, a country under change.  

Thanks to the publishers, Sceptre Books, who gave me a copy of the book via Bookbridgr.