Like her Island in the Clouds, Susan Toy’s second Bequia Perspective novel, One Woman’s Island is a complex story. On the surface, it’s a crime novel. Mariana, a Canadian woman in her forties, arrives on the island of Bequia running away from the ghosts of her past. Her new friends – a small community of expatriates—ask her to help them to solve a murder. In the orderly, organised world that Mariana’s coming from, meddling in the police investigation would be impossible, but rules are different on Bequia. The local police, with very little experience with serious crimes, are slow and inefficient. Mariana is more than happy to help. She needs a distraction anyway…
Beneath this first layer there is an intimate story of a lonely and deeply hurt woman, whose seemingly safe and comfortable world collapsed when her husband died, leaving her to deal not only with his unexpected demise, but with his emotional betrayal as well.
Mariana’s choice of her temporary exile is not random: years ago, when she was young and happy, she visited the island with her husband. And now she’s back, to heal her wounds, and even more importantly—to look for the happy woman she once was and reconnect with her.
It won’t go smoothly. The seductive, exotic and unique world of Bequia knows how to throw out a challenge and headstrong and stubborn Mariana, with her North American set of values, will have many clashes with the island’s mentality and customs before she realizes that she should stop trying to fix things that others don’t see as broken.
Yet, in spite of all the up and downs, the Bequia experience will have a profound influence on Mariana. Instead of that young, happy woman who once visited the island, Mariana will find—and accept—herself, firmly grounded in here and now.
And in a subtle way, she’ll will leave her own imprint on Bequia—I’m sure that young Philbain and Ayayla will never forget Mariana and the stories she read to them.