A young married couple Hollie and Goodwin (Win) Macbreeze, struggling with Hollie's recent diagnosis of kidney disease, retreat to the remote island of Estillyen, a place Win's grandfather had often visited. In fact, Win has brought along a small painting he (Win) did as a child from a photograph his grandfather had taken of an island spot known as the Point. One of his goals is to visit that spot and see it for himself. Hollie would like to pursue her art while on the island and hopes to gain a perspective on her health condition.
What the couple finds is a place like no other, a place that begins to affect their lives from the first day on the island. Each building has a character, design, and history unique to itself. A series of twelve dramatic readings are given at various cabins over several weeks, each one narrated by one or two monks, who bring to light the truth of God's love, the sacrifice of his Son, and the blessed gift of redemption. Lurking in the shadows of each tale of the power of the Word is the insidious jealousy and dark heart of Satan. Win and Hollie feel themselves strengthened and intrigued by the readings, as well as being drawn to the people of the island.
From the very first, I knew this was not an ordinary novel. It is laden with an allegorical and poetic style. The twelve readings or lessons could be read on their own, and I think I would recommend that to anyone who reads the book. Apart from the timeless, powerful lesson of God's love for us, the book's parallel plot is Win's quest to see the Point and his new relationship with the bitter, broken man Oban who resides at the top of the Point.
While some reviews I've read rave about the island itself and the dense prose that describes its buildings, monks, nuns, and even its animals, I found myself bogged down in the detailed descriptions. With powerful reminders in every chapter that WORDS MATTER, I was afraid that I would miss something of spiritual significance in even the narrative sections of such mundane activities as eating breakfast. Nothing was a smooth read for me, and though I occasionally felt myself becoming attached to Win, Hollie, and Oban, I felt their actions and dialogues were too stilted to read as realistic, or even as characters in a fantasy. I'm not sure what relationship author Jefferson wanted to create between readers and his characters, and I can't say whether the failure to connect was mine alone, but suffice to say I never made full connections. I know there is power in Jefferson's telling of the twelve stories (described by one review as illuminating the words of the Bible for a modern audience) and I know that there are readers who will delight in every descriptive detail of the Isle of Estillyen. I hope that such readers find this title and delve into it.
For those who are intrigued by the title, take a short trip to the island by visiting this website.
I want to thank Handlebar and Port Estillyen Productions for providing a copy of the title for review purposes. All opinions are mine.