Ralph's Reviews > A Week on the Island

A Week on the Island by John Rigbey
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's review
Aug 27, 2014

it was amazing
bookshelves: literature

Retired school teacher Jerry Ramsey, living a solitary but satisfactory life in a village in England's New Forest, suddenly finds that life thrown off balance when he receives a letter from the law firm for which his father worked (but from which the Old Man retired in the late 1940's)informing him he has been bequeathed a substantial legacy by a complete stranger. Jerry is intrigued, but wary. His first impulse is the natural reaction, to take the money, thank his lucky stars, and shut up, but Jerry knows he has no lucky stars, for that has never been the nature of his life. He finally decides to spend a week on the Isle of Wight, the residence of his benefactor, the location of the law firm, and Jerry's birthplace and home till he was sent off to boarding school by his class-conscious mother and emotionally distant father. A meeting with the solicitor is unfruitful, but Jerry decides to have a go at finding the truth behind the unexpected and inexplicable legacy. After all, being retired, his time is his own, and, if nothing else, he will spend a pleasant week on the island of his birth.

In his previous four books, featuring Chief Inspector Michael Gregory of Scotland Yard, retired CID detective John Rigbey proved himself a proficient practitioner of the police procedural, creating a character that can hold his own against Scotland Yard's many other fictional man-hunters and thief-takers. In "A Week on the Island," Mr Rigbey establishes himself as a master storyteller, able to deftly weave together myriad lives with the skeins of a plot covering a period of nearly ninety years, while at the same time giving the novel such a vivid sense of place that the Isle of Wight almost becomes a character in its own right. I've never been to Wight, but if I were to go I might find it beneficial to take "A Week on the Island" along with my Baedeker.

While there is a legal mystery to solve during the course of the book (who left him the money and why?) the biggest mysteries are in Jerry's own life, in his relationship with his estranged father, now dead himself for four decades, and who left nothing to Jerry upon his death, having given away his substantial estate to charities before his passing. As Jerry investigates the mysterious legacy, he learns things about his father he never knew, about himself, and the life he abandoned after being sent away from the island. The complex inquiry into the legacy, his life, his father, and lost loves engages the reader, grips the reader's emotions, and holds on tight even after the last paragraph is read.

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Reading Progress

August 27, 2014 – Started Reading
August 27, 2014 – Shelved
September 2, 2014 – Shelved as: literature
September 2, 2014 – Finished Reading

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