From one of Britain’s best-kept secrets, the novelist whom the Independent said writes better than almost anyone of her generation,” comes this brooding tale of the murderous ties that bind a mother and daughter. Abandoned at birth and shuttled among foster homes, Nikki Black decides at twenty-eight to seek out her birth mother, intent on killing her. Nikki’s vengeance takes her to a remote island off the coast of Scotland, where both the beaches and the inhabitants are full of artifacts from the past that haunt the present. Here she discovers a witchlike mother who concocts remedies in her dank kitchen and a stuttering, monstrous brother whose seemingly simple mind is filled with stories of past islanders, crofters, and Vikings. Gradually her brother’s dangerous love and strange way of seeing the world transform Nikki’s life in ways that she and the reader could never expect.
With her signature blend of psychological intensity and strong moral underpinnings, Jane Rogers skillfully leads us into a primal, almost mythic world where our darkest impulses and most profound fears are played out to shocking consequence. Part fairy tale, part murder mystery, ISLAND is, like the madness it depicts, terrifying, logical, and utterly consuming.
"When I was twenty-eight I decided to kill my mother." This sixth book from Rogers (Promised Lands; Mr. Wroe's Virgins) is a caustically memorable literary shocker, built tightly around its antiheroic narrator. Abandoned at birth and shuttled among foster homes around Birmingham, Nikki Black (a name she chose for herself because it had "teeth") decided in her teens to remain at a children's home rather than suffer the ministrations of hypocritical caregivers. To call her unsympathetic is putting it mildly: the grown-up Nikki hates everyone, using whomever she needs for sex, sleeping space or money, and connecting emotionally with no one. She has one purpose in life: to find her real mother (listed on her birth certificate as Phyllis Lovage), ask her why she abandoned her, and then kill her. A financial windfall lets Nikki track Phyllis down to the small, remote Scottish island of Ayssar, where she rents her spare room out to boarders. Herself dying from cancer, Phyllis makes money by selling herbal remedies; she uses the funds to care for her slightly retarded son, Calum. Nikki rents the room and conceals her identity, the better to spy on, and then slay, her mother--and to win the affections of Calum. This novel's macabre plot is compelling enough, but Rogers's real talent lies in tone and psychology--in Nikki's sometimes horrifying, sometimes nearly reasonable flights of fancy, and in the asides, details, folktales and anecdotes that percolate through the main narrative. Fans of Ian McEwan should relish this stylish, charismatic addition to Britain's gallery of antiheroes. (Nov.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.