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3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  510 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
'Writer seeks "wife" for a year on tropical island.'

The opportunity to escape from it all was irresistible. Lucy Irvine answered the advertisement -- and found herself alone on a remote desert island with a 'husband' she hardly knew.

Lucy Irvine fell in love with the seductive, if cruel, beauty of that untouched Eden, whose power to enslave and enchant her never slackened t
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published March 1st 1984 by Random House (first published 1983)
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Jun 02, 2012 Kinga rated it liked it
I didn't read much between the ages 16-20, I was too busy rebelling and going to parties.
But I remember reading this one book. I just found it again, so I thought I would review here it for your pleasure. It was about a woman who went to live a la Robinson Cruzoe with some crazy dude and all I remember was that because of malnutrition the main character's anus became so loose her rectum would constantly fall out.

I am still traumatised.
Sep 10, 2014 Liralen rated it really liked it
At the age of 25, Lucy Irvine answered an ad for a yearlong spot as a 'wife' on a desert island. She and her partner—Gerald Kingsland, who was twice her age—were to play at being survivors: they would build shelters, fish and forage for food (and hopefully make the use of some seeds), be completely on their own. Once you accept that they're both rather batshit crazy, it's an enthralling read. (Perhaps a bit reminiscent of Legacy of Luna?)

There are two main things to consider—the survival aspect
Jan 15, 2012 GoldGato rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was a big U.K. hit in the 1980s, as it told the story of an older man and a younger woman who spend a year together on the desert island of Tuin, off the Torres Straits of Australia. The couple are combustible from the get-go, as the man wants sex and an escape from responsibilities, while the woman wants to find herself. Never a good combination.

Now add drought, lack of supplies, and starvation to the sexual friction, and the story really gets good. Lucy Irvine tells the true tale fro
Mar 22, 2011 Marycan rated it it was amazing
Amazing book... hard to read, harder to put down. I found this in a second-hand bookstore, and naturally assumed it was the basis of the Tom Hanks movie. Not. Very much, not. The other reviews tell the story pretty well, so I'll mention some other things. Gerald did go on to write his book,The Islanders, but it was not the success her book was, and to be honest, halfway through Castaway it's pretty clear that he simply does not have the urge to write or anything else. In fact, you wonder if he k ...more
Jan 30, 2012 Nettle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: castaways
Got this off my wishlist for Christmas and read it over the course of a day. Once I'd started, I couldn't put it down.

This is one of those books that gets into your head, you look away from reading it, go into the kitchen to make a drink and suddenly a part of your brain's not sure where you are. One of those books where you look out of the window and wonder why the weather is different to what it was a moment ago, when you were in the book.

Well written and all the better for the fact it's a tru
Nov 30, 2013 Genn rated it did not like it
I've taken away my first review as it was all so long ago. But I always had problems with this book as it simply had so many untruths. It was a short year and many people were highly amused (and otherwise) at the complete ignorance of these two who arrived with no cultural awareness or practicality and relied heavily on help almost immediately. It could have still been a good story and experience to tell without it trying to pretend something it was not I think it's great she wrote the book, I j ...more
BL Draper
Jul 22, 2013 BL Draper rated it it was amazing
"Like a Jane Austen novel gone delirious with sun stroke." --New York Times Book Review

Haha....great description! I love the survivalist aspect of this book, it's endlessly fascinating to me how people survive when they have little through innovation & invention. I also love the author's honesty, she doesn't sugarcoat either his, or her own, behaviour or personalities but is refreshingly transparent about their experiences. Absolutely recommended.
John Nicholl
Oct 26, 2015 John Nicholl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Absolutely brilliant! I loved this book. I admire the author's writing style, triumphant strength of spirit and total unrelenting honesty. What an adventure! What a book! Read and enjoy.
Sep 12, 2010 Kathrina rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs-bios, british
"Like a Jane Austen novel gone delirious with sun stroke." --New York Times Book Review

I don't know about the Jane Austen reference, but you're curious now, right? Immediately on reading the premise, I was too curious not to read this book. In 1981 a man puts out a want-ad looking for a "wife" to join him on a deserted island just south of Papua New Guinea. It turns out the Australian government required a man and woman to marry before living together, even on a deserted island, but it seems tha
Mar 30, 2015 Sharon rated it really liked it
I've been meaning to read this book for most of my adult life and I'm so glad that I finally got round to it. From the moment I started the book I have been living on Tuin and, like Lucy, I am a little reluctant to leave. There is so much to enjoy in this book. Firstly it is the story of a heroic, real life, female, Robinson Crusoe clinging to survival against the odds. Then there are her diary entries that focus on the natural beauty of the island and Lucy's growing love affair with Tuin that f ...more
Feb 17, 2008 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Women and men.
If you still daydream about the drama and romance of "roughing it" on a desert island with a complete stranger who isn't Clive Owen or at least George Clooney, read this. Not to be confused with a very trite movie starring a very trite male star, this is a true story. They become castaways on purpose, when Lucy Irvine answers a newspaper ad looking for a companion for an "adventure". This adventure consists of living on a desert island with a total stranger, in hopes of eventual romance. Well, s ...more
Jul 21, 2009 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, travel
I think this may be my favorite book I love how she writes, she describes the most mundane things in the most beautiful way. I really admire how even though things didn't turn out the way they were supposed to she still took away so much from the experience and wrote such a great book. She is a very talented person with such strength and intelligence.
Mar 25, 2015 Mii rated it it was amazing
This book is a great read!
Mar 29, 2014 Kathy rated it it was amazing
Probably my favorite book. After all the hardship, I wonder if she ever missed the island...
Maggie Jean
Mar 18, 2017 Maggie Jean rated it really liked it
I had read this years ago and wanted to reread it. It was just as interesting. If you can get past the fact that Irvine and her Island mate really have no point for living on an Island for a year and would have certainly perished without outside help, it's still a good read. So, after reading Irvine's book, I wanted to read what her partner said. (That is in another post)
Jan 20, 2017 Chris rated it it was amazing
Excellent. A very honest sincere account of one year in a thinking persons life. Very highly recommended.
Phil Hodgkiss
May 29, 2017 Phil Hodgkiss rated it really liked it
Interesting true life story of a two people surviving on a tropical island
Apr 24, 2013 Suzanne rated it really liked it
Well. What an interesting book. This is the true story of two strangers spending a year on an island in 1981-1982. Lucy Irvine answers an ad to be a "wife" for a year with a man who wants to spend a year on a deserted island and then write a book about it. It is not clear whether the expectation of sex was set forth ahead of time; however, when they find an island (Tuin, in the Torres Straits) the government will not allow them to live there unless they are legally married. Once on the island Lu ...more
Rob Bliss
Aug 03, 2013 Rob Bliss rated it really liked it
I love this book and hope I read it several times in a lifetime.

Lucy didn't have formal education after the age of 13, and she writes better than tons of pro writers. She knows what she's doing.

She's more independant than most people -- I didnt think a single person could be that independant. She wants to live in an island, she's gonna live on an island, dammit.

Even with the hell that paradise can be, she and G survive it, and Im envious.

Thats really why I loved this book so much (well, I fell i
Claudine Carmel
Dec 17, 2016 Claudine Carmel rated it liked it
(Contains spoilers) At first I couldn't put this book down. I love tales of survival and this started off brilliantly. I enjoyed it even though Lucy and G had made the choice to try survive on a desert island for a year. Irvine's descriptions are fresh and evocative and I was hooked until the story stopped being about survival and life on Tuin and instead became more about Lucy and G's relationship with the Islands near by; how they would leave Tuin to spend time on Badu, take part in celebratio ...more
Jan 10, 2013 aldabra rated it really liked it
When I found this book abandoned on the shelf of my favorite second-hand store, I was afraid it would be some sort of survival challenge tailored for TV or a plea for world peace straight out of the Flower Power movement. After all, the tagline above (i.e. Writer seeks "wife" for a year on tropical island) isn't exactly reassuring.

I'm glad I didn't let this put me off. Instead, it turned out to be the simple story of a man and woman living for a year on a wild island, not trying to prove anythi
Jan 24, 2009 Chana rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It was interesting, and I thought she had some insightful things to say regarding boundaries, decisions, purpose and relationships. I was amazed with pioneer/can do spirit. This girl worked so hard and was awfully smart; still they nearly died of thirst and starvation, and suffered all sorts of deprivation and illness, all by choice originally. They would have died (or had to leave the island if they could have found a way off) without the help of the islanders. They ...more
Louise Armstrong
Nov 11, 2013 Louise Armstrong rated it really liked it
I read this years ago in a haze of jealousy. I was stuck in a low-wage job and couldn't imagine how people got to travel.

I've been to the Thursday Islands now, and travelled a lot, so it was fun to reread from a different perspective. It's still an interesting book. I wish I could reread the book that G wrote as well. I remember being fascinated by how differently they related the same incidents.

The descriptions are luscious, the experiment was brave, it's well worth reading about.

The most inter
Jan 02, 2017 Cabracrazy18 rated it really liked it
This book is the account of a woman living on a deserted island intending to write about the experience, her only companion being her 'husband' for the project. Towards the beginning they have no company and live only on the supplies they brought with them and what they could catch or gather. After illness and near starvation, they make connections on a nearby island and the island people greatly change the experiment. The couple's relationship is rocky and many issues eluded to are not explaine ...more
Nov 27, 2010 Tracy rated it liked it
This was a very intriguing book, I think everyone wonders what it would be like to live the life of a castaway on some tropical island and this book certainly covers that topic, but I found it hard to relate to the author or to understand her motivations for choosing to do it, or for many of her other choices. I wish she had been more reflective and open of all of her decisions, and of her relationship with her companion. I appreciated her openness about the physical hardships that they endured. ...more
Apr 08, 2013 Ralph rated it really liked it
A writer put out an ad seeking a 'wife' for year on tropical island. Irvine, a 25-year-old Britisher, answered that ad in 1981 and spent a year on the small uninhabited isle of Tuin in the Torres Strait between Australia and New Guinea. Their relationship went through various stages of intimacy as well as facing the problems of merely surviving periods of heat, drought, heavy rain, and having little or no food at times. In the end,.... well, you'll have to read it to find how they managed.

PS -
Apr 14, 2011 Rachel rated it really liked it
Loved this true story of a woman, tired of her city life, who answered a newspaper ad from an older man looking for someone to accompany him on an 'adventure' on a desert island for a year! It's her fantastic account of what that year was like with all its highs and lows of survival and of their love-hate relationship. Not the movie with Tom Hanks, though it was made into quite a decent film with Oliver Reed and Lucy Irving.
Donna Hendricks
Dec 07, 2014 Donna Hendricks rated it really liked it
It was definitely my type of book. It took place on a tiny Island. G had advertised for a "wife" to spend a year there with him, so he could write a book about his experiences. She explored the island and I (felt like I) was with her every step, even listening to her thoughts. There was limited water, and they had little to eat. People from a nearby island discovered them and became their friends. You'll have to read the book she wrote to find out the details. So interesting.
Helen Greenwood
Jan 05, 2013 Helen Greenwood rated it really liked it
I've read this book lots and lots of time. I don't know why I love it but I do. Gerald drives me nuts portrayed as he is as an intolerant sexist, and I'm not sure that Lucy would be that easy to live with either. It has gives a good insight into how happy you can be without all the trappings and inconveniences of modern living-surviving on your wits, being entirely self-reliant and sometimes monumentally brave.
James Grey
Jan 11, 2017 James Grey rated it liked it
The subject matter is excellent here - who hasn't thought of running away to a desert island? I love Lucy's free-spirited willing to get back to nature, including taking her clothes off as much as possible :) The writing is reasonable if nothing special, but this is quite a readable book by someone whose experience and bravery you have to respect.
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