The Taking of Agnès
(London, Jonathan Cape, hb 1985, pb Abacus, 1986; San Francisco, Mercury House, 1987)
When Agnès came to Martinique to visit her Aunt Alicia she filled the cool dark house on the edge of the plantation with her laughter and bright youth. She enchanted young men with her seductive beauty, and she baffled and bemused her aunt.
Then Agnès disappeared. The island’s officials cited as her captors a group of political terrorists dedicated to Antillean independence. Yet Alicia knew that others were implicated in some way in the kidnapping: Claude Cerda, a fiercely proud Chilean poet; the taciturn English journalist David Taverner, who arrived mysteriously in a plane carrying a cargo of orchids; Alicia herself, alone with her memories and ghosts of the past. There were others, too. Alicia knew each one of them was guilty and one more guilty than the rest.
Set against the strange tropical landscape of Martinique, where even the danger of moonstroke is real, this haunting tale is both a convincing portrayal of a French colonial community as a time of uprising, and a moving story of passion and vengeance which envelops the reader in an aura of mystery.
‘What makes the story so gripping is the way the author interweaves the hot, steamy jungle atmosphere, and the furtive malcontents who inhabit it, with what seems to be the fairly normal rivalry between two women of different generations.’
‘This is a really unusual and effective narrative voice, showing great wisdom and assurance … a very impressive debut indeed.’