The Connection: The moment the reader “gets it.”
This newsletter has been running now for just over a year, and writing it once a month sets me happily on some sort of a conveyor that turns the year—at least in my mind’s eye. I see a clock, a belt, a current, perhaps gears rotating, one tooth meshing neatly into the next—January to February—31st to the 1st. Moving things on.
My novel Off-Island has been out for over a year as an e-book and as a paperback for half that long. It’s been an interesting journey, with exposure growing steadily and organically. If you haven’t had a chance to read it yet perhaps the following review might entice you.
When Krista walks out of her dance class, this will be the beginning of a huge turning point in her life.
My goodness. Off-Island may be more novella than novel in length but it packs the most enormous punch. The quality of Marlene Hauser’s writing is so sophisticated and visual that the whole time I was reading I felt resonances with André Gide’s Isabelle. There’s an intensity of colour and an exploration of truth and identity that I thought was similar to Gide’s classic. The poetic nature of some passages, especially those relating to Krista’s thoughts and dreams, was very affecting. I thought the descriptions of setting were utterly beautiful.
I confess I couldn’t stand Krista, but equally I couldn’t stop reading her story. I had to know how far her past had shaped her present and how she might deal with her future. Marlene Hauser has depicted such an intimate and compelling portrait of guilt, grief and self-knowledge that I read Off-Island in one sitting. I went from despising Krista to feeling compassion and empathy as a result of the skilful writing. The claustrophobic intensity of so few characters affords such depth of insight into Krista’s mind and character that it is impossible not to become involved as a reader.
Never having been pregnant, the events of Off-Island are totally unfamiliar to me and yet I felt the way in which they are presented depicted such universal themes that I could understand and appreciate them all. Marlene Hauser’s exploration of how we make choices and how we can be self-deceptive makes Off-Islandalmost compulsory reading for anyone in Krista’s, and indeed Michael’s, situation. I felt I learnt so much about myself, let alone the characters, from this small volume.
Off-Island is not an easy read. It may well take some readers on a journey they would rather not take, and I’m not sure it’s a book I can say I enjoyed because of the subject matter. At times I found it an uncomfortable read, but I also found it fascinating, thought-provoking, compelling and beautifully written. I think Off-Islandby Marlene Hauser is a very important book.
When this review was brought to my attention, I had to read it twice. The first thought that came to mind was that Linda “got it,” (hooray) and then I was reminded of why I read and why I write: to get it.Reading is that brief instant of connection between reader and writer when we jointly and in unison say “yes.” We get it. We identify. What more could anyone ask for this February, this Valentine’s Day?
Wishing you and yours a happy February, and of course a Happy Valentine’s Day.
On sale, paperback released 28th September