Oceania, 1879 ‘I wake again and again and wish we had never come to this place. It seems to me that we have broken into the middle of a story and now we are part of it.’ Lizzie Peacock and her siblings have lived a hardscrabble life since their mother and father brought them to settle a remote and uninhabited island in the Pacific. For two years the family has survived on next to nothing, yet Lizzie’s father Mr Peacock has not given up the particular swagger that comes from possessing a wife, children, a patch of land and hope for the future. And now, perhaps, a gang of islanders who have come to work for him. Kalala is one of these men. A longing to see the world has brought him eight hundred miles from his isolated Polynesian home. Missionary-educated, he is shocked to find these ragged children who cannot read. Albert, Mr Peacock’s eldest son, suffers bitterly from his father’s obsessions. All he wants is to get away from him and from the island. When a ship comes, he thinks he can grab his chance. As Lizzie and Kalala unpick the mystery of Albert’s disappearance, the terrible secrets that the island itself is harbouring are slowly revealed: all the certainties underpinning the life that Mr Peacock has constructed begin to unravel, with unimaginable consequence.
Anna Mazzola is a writer who, due to some fault of her parents, is drawn to peculiar and dark historical subjects. Her novels, which have been described as literary crime fiction or historical crime, explore the psychological and social impact of crime and injustice. Anna’s influences include Sarah Waters, Daphne Du Maurier, Shirley Jackson and Margaret Atwood.
Her second novel, “The Story Keeper”, will be published this July. It follows a folklorist’s assistant as she searches out dark fairytales and stolen girls on the Isle of Skye in 1857
Meet both Anna Mazzola AND Lydia Syson in conversation in Thame Library on Friday morning.