by Donoghue, Emma

Two monks leave seventh-century Ireland in a boat searching for an isolated spot to found a new monastery, but instead drift out to sea and wind up on a bare, steep island inhabited by thousands of birds. 100,000 first printing.

Born in Dublin in 1969, and now living in Canada, Emma Donoghue writes fiction (novels and short stories, contemporary and historical, most recently The Pull of the Stars), as well as drama for screen and stage. Room, was a New York Times Best Book of 2010 and a finalist for the Man Booker, Commonwealth, and Orange Prizes, selling between two and three million copies in forty languages. Donoghue was nominated for an Academy Award for her 2015 adaptation starring Brie Larson. She co-wrote the screenplay for the film of her 2016 novel The Wonder, starring Florence Pugh, coming from Netflix. For more information, visit www.emmadonoghue.com.

Skellig Michael, a steep, rocky island off the southwestern Irish coast, is the setting for this atmospheric work, an imagined story about its early human inhabitants. In the seventh century, Artt, a scholar-priest guided by a dream, asks two monks to join him on a pilgrimage to an empty isle "less tainted by the world's breath." Excited at achieving a greater life purpose, the elderly Cormac, a talented storyteller and mason, agrees to go, as does Trian, a lanky, adventurous younger man. From the days-long boat journey through their mission to establish an island settlement and worship God appropriately, their work is arduous. Donoghue's (The Pull of the Stars, 2020) prose glimmers with images of the pristine natural world, including many varieties of sea birds, but as Artt's sanctimonious piety increasingly challenges common sense, Cormac and Trian wonder if their vows of obedience will doom them. As always, Donoghue extracts realistic emotions from characters interacting within close quarters and delicately explores the demands of faith. This evocative historical novel also works as a cautionary tale about the dangers of religious control.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Donoghue's readers and all lovers of thought-provoking literary fiction will be looking for this quietly dramatic tale. Copyright 2022 Booklist Reviews.

Three monks seek refuge from worldly temptation on a remote island off the Irish coast. Great Skellig, a rocky outcrop with no groundwater and scant vegetation, is hardly a promising place to establish a settlement. This matters not at all to Brother Artt, focused on purity and piety to an extent that's extreme even by the standards of the early Middle Ages. "Does God not visit those who love him in the wildest wastes?" he asks his two companions, who at first are awed by the holy man who has chosen them to serve him on this mission. Taking one of her regular breaks from contemporary fiction, Donoghue has left behind none of her ability to spin a compelling story and people it with sharp characterizations. Young Trian, given to a monastery by his parents at age 13 for an unnamed defect, grows in confidence on the island and becomes increasingly sullen about the endless copying of sacred manuscripts at the expense of pressing tasks like finding food. Elderly Cormac, who came to the cloistered life after the death of his wife and children, has myriad practical skills and an engaging love of storytelling; Christianity for him seems to be a series of marvelous yarns. But even resourceful Cormac struggles to keep the trio alive as winter approaches and Artt's demands grow increasingly onerous: They must build an altar before a shelter to sleep in; he forbids trade with nearby islands for desperately needed supplies as a source of sinful contamination. Generating narrative tension from a minimum of action, Donoghue brings the monks' conflicts to a climax when Trian falls ill and a long-kept secret is revealed. Artt's bigoted response provokes a confrontation that brings the novel to a satisfying conclusion. Reminiscent of Room (2010) in its portrayal of fraught interactions in a confined space, this medieval excursion lacks its bestselling predecessor's broad appeal, but the author's more adventurous fans will appreciate her skilled handling of challenging material. More fine work from the talented Donoghue. Copyright Kirkus 2022 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Terms of Use   ©Copyright 2022 Follett School Solutions