Multiple narratives tell whole story of mystery, intrigue in 'Peregrine Island'
In her novel "Peregrine Island," Great Barrington author Diane Saxton tells the story of Winter Peregrine, who lives in a once opulent mansion on an island she owns off the Connecticut coast, in the waters of Long Island Sound. Her wayward daughter, Elsepath (Elsie) and her granddaughter, Peda, have come to live with her after years of separation. There is respect and love between the daughter and mother but there are secrets and conflict, as well.
Winter adores her sensitive and caring granddaughter but her preoccupation is laying on her chaise gazing intently at a painting of people walking by the sea, from another time, another world. The painting is by a great artist named Simon Crandor. Someone has contacted the Getty Museum, or so it seems, to evaluate the painting. One morning two elderly men appear at her doorstep in the company of Hamlet (Ham) Crandor, the grandson of the great artist. We soon discover the men are not actually from the Getty Museum but were asked by the museum to appraise the painting because it is one of a kind, not having otherwise been acquired or collected, and these two men knew the painter, and one, Mr. Barry Zinger, is an expert. The other, Mr. Horatio Guardi, was an old friend of the painter.
The novel is told in alternating chapters titled Winter, Elsie, and Peda, presenting three points of view. It is a wonderful way to tell the story because it provides a deep portrait of all three: precisely how they see the world, each other, and what they are thinking. Meanwhile, the examination of the Crandor painting reveals much more than anyone in the story can handle. What is revealed potentially implicates everyone in the story (except little Peda) in plotting, and perhaps even conspiracy to commit murder. The artist Simon Crandor was supposedly lost at sea and his grandson Ham Crandor suspects skullduggery. The contents of Winter's painting may be worth a million dollars.
"Peregrine Island" has all the qualities of a great mystery novel successfully complicating intrigue, drama, and doubt about everyone in the story. Each character is working out colliding issues and motives that the reader must formulate theories upon theories to justify.
The expansive seascape setting acts as ample metaphor for past and present weather. The mystery of the painting and the revelations of the interrelated characters' secrets resolve in a fully unexpected and romantic tale that becomes wonderfully complex and as deep as the sea defining "Peregrine Island."
A reading and book signing with Diane Saxton for "Peregrine Island" will take place at The Lenox Library in partnership with The Bookstore in Lenox at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 18,
Colin Harrington is the Events Manager at The Bookstore and Get Lit Wine Bar in Lenox, Mass. Colin welcomes reader comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Diane B. Saxton
She Writes Press; August 2, 2016
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