Nine Island is the kind of book that will sink in way after you have read it. It makes most sense sometimes and no sense at all, the other times. Jane Alison’s writing is lucid at so many points and so vague at the other points. You get my drift, don’t you? It is a dream-like book. I was astounded when it began the way it did and there were also times I was bored out of my mind. Having said that, I reread a couple of passages of the book once I was done with it and let me tell you: They sparkled and spoke in a new voice to me.
What is the book about?
I don’t know how to tell you what the book is about – it is a lot of things actually – a love story, a rumination on Ovid and his tales, about solitude and the bonds we forge as we grow older and circumstances change and mostly, it is about taking second chances and giving yourself the luxury to make your mistakes and fall in love, all over again.
At the heart of the book is J (It is an autobiographical novel by the way), who lives alone past a certain age and yearns for love and companionship. She is trying to decide whether or not to withdraw from romantic love after returning from a reunion with an old flame, Sir Gold. The visit to Sir Gold results in nothing and thus the decision to be made. J lives in Miami and throughout the book ponders over love, Ovid (she is translating his magical stories) and about her ailing mother.
Now, what took me by the horns where this book is concerned is the force of Alison’s writing. The form of writing is free-flowing and that is what allows you to conveniently sink into it. The book is candid and doesn’t mince words about emotions and what J is going through. The first-person narrative works wonders for a book like this. All in all, Nine Island is a book that will make you reassess your relationship and speak with you in ways you didn’t imagine.