Author: Sophie Schiller
Type of book: WWI, espionage, folktales, genteel poverty, orphan, spying, secrets, Germans, West Indies, 1916-1918? Transfer, hurricane, nature, friendship, U-Boat, submarine, faith, Queen Coziah
Year it was published: 2014
A forbidden friendship that blossoms into love between an island girl and a German U-boat deserter is at the heart of this colorful historical novel.
In 1916, Abigail Maduro arrives in the Danish West Indies to live with her Aunt Esther, a bad tempered spinster, and her houseful of eccentric servants. Despite the island's veneer of tranquility, St. Thomas is a hotbed of German spies who use their Hamburg-America steamers to aid the Kaiser's war effort.
When a mysterious stranger suddenly appears in town, Abigail is drawn into the conflict. In the scholarly Erich Seibold, she finds the friendship and love she has been craving, even after she learns that Erich is really a deserter from a German U-boat. Their idyllic interlude comes to a crashing halt when the island's German consul also discovers Erich's identity, and blackmails him into committing sabotage. After a melee involving the Danish governor, Erich is thrown into prison, forcing Abigail to risk everything to save him. Action and adventure abound in this colorful historical novel that brings to life a fading West Indian sugar colony in the last days of Danish rule
Characters are definitely a strong point for me, and its quite a testament to say that I can still remember and differentiate them. First of all there's Abigail Maduro, a descendant of Sephardic Jews who comes back to West Indies against her will. She is sixteen, and her imagination rivals that of heroine in Northanger Abbey. She is brave, kindhearted, impulsive and loyal. Aunt Esther is the spinster aunt that lives in denial and seems to have a lot of enemies. She is abusive towards Abigail. Erich Seibold has got to be my favorite character in the book. I loved his sense of humor and how he flirts with Abigail. He is well read and has his own secrets that he eventually reveals to Abigail. Nana Jane and Cooky Betty are two native women who serve Abigail as well as Aunt Esther. With one another they have a love/hate relationship, both are loyal, and are always there for Abigail, trying to do whatever they can for her. I would have wanted more scenes of Nana Jane, Cooky Betty as well as the judge that Abigail meets.
Everything happens for a reason
The story is written in first person narrative from Abigail's point of view. I did find the atmosphere interesting, at least how in beginning the story struck me as sort of light hearted despite the seriousness, but then it tried to stay serious amidst interesting and memorable characters such as Nana Jane, Cooky Betty, Aunt Esther, Queen Coziah, Erich Seibold and the judge. To be honest I would have wanted to spend more time with the characters, or to see more scenes with their personalities, because I enjoyed them a great deal. So, yes, characters and the setting are the strong points.
(from historical fiction virtual book tour)
I love to read historical fiction, but more often than not, historical fiction is always serious, which isn't a bad thing, but sometimes I'd want to read something fun and lighthearted. Spy Island definitely fits that criteria. The heroine really reminded me of the heroine from Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen as well as Sally Freedman from Starring Sally J Freedman as herself by Judy Blume, at least in beginning I got that impression. There were parts that were long for me, and one tiny thing is that Disney created Alice cartoon in 1950s maybe? Definitely not 1916 (Just realized that a book was written in 1800s titled Alice in Wonderland, but I think that should have been mentioned because I think many readers will automatically think of Disney cartoon instead of the book.) What I did enjoy was the chemistry between the characters, and I do wish for more scenes with Erich and Abigail. Oh yeah, I loved Erich's character.
This is for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour
Buy the Book
Spy Island Blog Tour Schedule
4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)