This Other Eden by  Paul Harding

This Other Eden

Paul Harding

After the arrival of the well-meaning but racist Reverend Diamond and a bunch of civil servants and scientists, the Apple Island people are labelled as backward people who need to be civilized as quickly as possible. The subjects addressed, like racial inequality and intolerance, are timeless. I loved the lyrical style and the lively characters, - which made the book despite its serious issues, more enjoyable.


Neither Iris nor Violet married or courted, to the extent that such a word described how young people on the island took up with one another and started families. At the age they'd have longed and looked for partners there were no boys or men of right age. Violet complained about the poverty of men while she did the washing or stacked wood or plucked weeds from the garden. Once, some man who must have seen one or the other sister picking up or returning a load of washing on the mainland rowed over one night and squirmed through the grass, as if every Lark child and Eha, up with the tide, could not see him clear as a snake on open sand, thinking he'd sneak into the cabin to get at whichever sister he'd seen. He writhed down the dark scuttle into the cabin, where Iris was waiting for him with a flatiron. She split his forehead open and that wicked little serpent twisted and writhed all the way back to his boat, blinded by its own blood pouring over its eyes. From the shadows, Rabbit Lark watched the brained man slither past. She held a robin's nest to her mouth, eating the pale blue eggs from it one by one.

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