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2015 > The Keeper: Week 1

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message 1: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 1038 comments Mod
Chapters 1- 5

message 2: by John (new)

John Mountford (KillMandela) | 735 comments Hi all!
I'm enjoying this little novel by Marguerite Poland - the shortest I've read in a long while. Now I understand how she's written so many.

The Keeper is set on Chaos Island. I'd never heard of it so did some research:

Vasco da Gama named this group of islands Ilhéus Châos (low or flat islands). It gained the name Bird Island later.

Bird Island (33°50′26″S 26°17′10″E), Seal Island and Stag Island lie in close proximity some 40 km (25 mi) east of the St Croix group or 53 km (33 mi) due east of Port Elizabeth and 7 km (4.3 mi) from the nearest landfall at Woody Cape – part of the Addo Elephant National Park. Bird Island has a lighthouse, erected in 1898 after a series of shipwrecks in the vicinity of the island. Doddington Rock, West rock and East Reef lie just South-West of the group of islands.

This is also a good article on Bird Island:

I enjoy Poland's mastery of mood and setting. I know how difficult it is to find the right word or metaphor to achieve this. She does, however, tend to replicate these sometimes within a short space of reading which lessens their effectiveness.
I find the excessive use of past tense and 'had' a little distracting.
She has built suspense well in the first five chapters. Was the mother's death a suicide? What secret does Aletta hold? Why did the brother disappear, and will he return?

I'm enjoying this read.

message 3: by Carolien (last edited Feb 08, 2015 11:29AM) (new)

Carolien (carolien_s) I'm so glad to see our research on the location of the lighthouse tallies, John. It seems like a very bleak place. 7km from Addo Elephant Park in the ocean is not exactly next to a bustling metropolis. The fauna sounds fairly limited from this description that I found on Wikipedia: "At 19 hectares (47 acres), Bird Island is the largest of the Algoa Bay islands – according to BirdLife. It is relatively flat and rises to 9 m (30 ft). Seal Island is 0.6 hectares (1.5 acres) in size and lies 360 m (1,180 ft) north of Bird Island. Stag Island is even smaller at 0.1 hectares (0.25 acres) and is 320 m (1,050 ft) north-west of Bird Island. "Much of the island group is covered by sparse growth of mixed vegetation dominated by the fleshy herb Mesembryanthemum (fig marigold/icicle plants). Tetragonia (Duneweed) and Chenopodium (Goosefoot) form localised thickets that provide cover for some seabirds," the fact sheet says." Also, given how windy PE is on the best of days, those islands must be really exposed to the elements.

Here's a photo of the island. Hannes mentions that he is on the island to automate the lighthouse and according to the article that was completed in 1968.

The book captures the isolated lifestyle of a lighthouse keeper very well. Lighthouse keepers are a sub-community by themselves and then, in this case, exists within another small island community. It really is the ideal setting for a classic murder mystery (which is I suppose why P.D. James couldn't resist something similar as a setting for a murder in The Lighthouse).

I agree that the mood and setting is excellent, but I'm a bit lost regarding the actual plot. There are lots of fragments of Hannes's family life, but it's difficult to find the central plot at this stage.

I am enjoying it and it's a nice short book for a change.

message 4: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 1038 comments Mod
Awesome guys, thanks for the research.
I wonder if the desolation of setting is meant to mimic desolation of spirit. Both for Hannes and his as yet unknown relatives.

message 5: by Carolien (last edited Feb 09, 2015 11:41AM) (new)

Carolien (carolien_s) Could very well be since nobody other than the deputy light keeper's wife, Maisie, seem to be very cheerful. She seems to approach life with a glass half full mentality.

message 6: by John (new)

John Mountford (KillMandela) | 735 comments Lisa wrote: "Awesome guys, thanks for the research.
I wonder if the desolation of setting is meant to mimic desolation of spirit. Both for Hannes and his as yet unknown relatives."

Unknown relatives? Was that a little spoiler, Lisa?

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