Sarah Stonich – These Granite Islands

A grainy photograph of a young girl wearing a white dress and straw hat rowing away from the camwera on calm water.

Author:
Sarah Stonich
Title:
These Granite Islands
Publisher:
Pocket Books (Simon & Schuster)
Publication date:
2001
Book design:
Fearn Cutler de Vicq
Synopsis (via):
On her deathbed, Isobel – hat maker, wife, and mother – recalls the haunting and fateful summer of 1936 when her world was transformed. After her husband Victor takes their sons away for the summer to a remote island, Isobel meets Cathryn, a woman who will forever change the way she looks at life. An intimate story of friendship, a portrait of marriage, and a glimpse into the depths of loss, the events of this summer become the prism that refracts the essence of Isobel’s life. This is a gorgeous debut, a true literary page-turner.
From Amazon UK: From her hospital bed, 99-year-old Isobel Howard recalls her unexpected friendship with Cathryn, a childless, Chicago-born heiress who shunned her family, attended art school and married an Irishman with no pedigree. During the summer of 1936, the women find themselves alone in Cypress, MN, a mining town on the edge of a glacier-fed lake. Isobel is the wife of a tailor, mother of three young children and a milliner by training. He husband, Victor has taken their two boys away to an island he has purchased–an extravagance that has become a sore point in their marriage. Left behind with her quiet daughter, Louisa, Isobel revives her interest in hatmaking. During their shared days, Cathryn introduces Isobel to literature, art and a more cosmopolitan view of life, ultimately making Isobel an accomplice to the affair she is having with a local forest ranger. But there is a darker side to this idyll, and as the elderly Isobel reflects on the ensuing events, it is clear that this summer has exacted a heavy price. Sticklers for logic may question some turns of the story, and Stonich’s prose has an eye for exquisite detail, opening up into atmospherically rendered, carefully observed scenes. Stonich unfurls a complex, many-layered and suspenseful story; and, like Susan Minot and Anita Shreve, she handles flashbacks and contemporary details with equal precision.

Alternative covers

Coming soon.

Extras

The Italian translation by M. Maioli e F. Del Moro is called Accadde un’estate (It happened one summer).
The French translation by Pierre Ménard is called Cet été là (That Summer).

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