Isle of Passion

Written by Laura Restrepo Trans. Dolores M. Koch
Review by Eileen Charbonneau

Its dual time periods of the beginning and the end of the twentieth century help make Isle of Passion both a mystery and a harrowing tale of survival. The tiny Pacific atoll of the title is settled for political purposes by a small group of Mexican soldiers and their families. Political upheaval then causes them to be forgotten by the mainland and the country they served. In their isolation, the families are left to fend for themselves, with the dangers that their deprivations engender. Raw personality traits are laid bare and lead to violence. Rising above her desperate circumstances to become a leader of strength and spirit is Alicia, the wife of the island’s proud and intemperate captain, who had come to the island as a young bride in 1908. Survival becomes dependent on her. Now available in both the original Spanish and this fine English translation by Dolores M. Koch, Isle of Passion’s castaway story is riveting in its pace, characterization, language and haunting setting.