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#TheBirdSkinner by Alice Greenway

By Pamelascott

It is 1973. Jim Kennoway, a distinguished ornithologist and Second World War veteran, has just left his work at the Natural History Museum in New York, turned his back on his family and retreated to an island boathouse off the coast of Maine. His desires are simple: to be left alone with his cigarettes, gin and battered copy of Treasure Island, and to forget.

Jim's solitude is shattered when Cadillac Baketi, a tall, ebullient and dazzlingly bright young woman from the Solomon Islands arrives on her way to study medicine at Yale University. Cadillac is the daughter of Tosca, an island scout Jim befriended during the war when they collected and skinned birds while spying on the Japanese. Jim curses the intrusion as he finds his thoughts catapulting back to his youth and a dark truth about his time in the Solomon's. Yet it may be that Cadillac, from the Pacific islands Jim thought he'd left behind, can teach him to be human again.#


[They talked about it afterward, at the end of the summer, after the summer folks had left and there was room to breathe again on the island]


(@AtlanticBooks, 2 June 2014, 342 pages, ebook, borrowed from @GlasgowLib via @OverDriveLibs)



I'd never heard of the author before but loved the cover and the blurb sounded like something I would enjoy. I really enjoyed this book and will seek out the author again. It's clear that Jim is a version of Long John Silver from Treasure Island. There are hints throughout the book; the island, Jim has one leg and treasures a battered copy of Treasure Island. Jim comes across as a grizzled old pirate who wants to be along with his gin and cigarettes who doesn't appreciate interference in his life. I enjoyed how he gradually unthaws thanks to Cadillac's presence. Cadillac refuses to tolerate his mood and gradually breaks the chip on his shoulder. There are a lot of flashbacks of Jim's experiences during the war and his dark secret is gradually revealed. The secret is not as dark as I was expecting but it explains his self-imposed isolation. I got lost in this book.

#TheBirdSkinner Alice Greenway

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