ISLAND OF DREAMS
Warner Books, 2000
Reviewed by Joy Calderwood
Little Grace Quinn may be alive, according to the confession of her motherís murderer. Grace was five years old when she was thought to have died in a fire. Friends from her community now join in a loving search for the girl who would now be a woman with no memory of her childhood.
The search forms strong bonds among four people. Architect Pierce Rourke has one overriding love, and it does not include any of the women who go in and out of his life. He creates buildings that "sing," that satisfy his sense of artistic harmony, and nothing less is acceptable to him. All this changes when he meets Ana Finch, his nieceís adored teacher. Her love and care for her students is stronger even than her pain and conviction of doom. Pierce is deeply moved by her courage, and hopes that she will find room in her life for him. Pierce commissions Giselle, his favorite sculptor, to create a sculpture that expresses his feelings for Ana. She finds that the sculpture he envisions expresses her own deep needs as well. Searching for little Grace brings rescuer-by-nature Garek McIntyre into the story, but we find he was already part of our quartet.
The characters have a deep appeal and their problems are interesting. Drifting into flashbacks that explore their roots gives the story a dreamlike quality, and so does the authorís love of beauty, expressed by Pierce and Giselle. This is movingly written when Pierce meets and is entranced by Ana. Stone handles their relationship with delicacy, taste and understanding. Giselle the glass sculptor has an intuitive understanding of beauty and creates it instinctively, and the authorís descriptions allow us not only to see but to feel her creations.
Stone understands how to use brevity for impact, and does this effectively in the first half of the book. Later, I felt she overdid the poetic language. However this didnít stop me from wanting to follow the characters and their stories. I was also perfectly willing to suspend my disbelief when unseen detectives were suddenly able to find out everything about little Grace in a few hours, after months without progress. There is little suspense in the main story -- it was not difficult to see the answer even before we had met everybody. But again, this was overcome by the lure of finding out more about our main characters.
I have often said that we need heroes, people we can look up to. I have also said that the present fashion of writing "realistic" characters without admirable qualities lowers our expectations, so we create a lower quality world. In ISLAND OF DREAMS Katherine Stone does the opposite. Her characters live with the shadows over their lives and make the best of them, honorably, courageously and generously. We can be happier for knowing these people in the short run, and better for knowing them in the long run.
I had never read Katherine Stone before, and ISLAND OF DREAMS was a fine introduction. Once I reached the end of the prologue, I never willingly put it down because I was so engaged with the story and the people.
June 2000 Review Originally Published on Romance Communications
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