An odd little novella about Robert Louis Stevenson; this edition is lushly produced with posh covers and illustrated with some of Stevenson’s own woodcuts (at 105 pages of big text it needs to justify its £7.99 price tag!).
It’s a story based on Stevenson’s last days in Samoa as he is dying of tuberculosis. After his meeting with a newly arrived Scottish missionary, bad things start to happen and Stevenson is drawn into the events in a way such that in his ill state he can’t be sure what’s happening.
A powerful and slightly strange little story that echoes RLS’s own work, (particularly Jekyll & Hyde), and also his desire for his fiction to convey purely actions and dialogue – ‘War on the adjective’ and Death to the optic nerve’ as he wrote to Henry James, a real correspondence that Manguel quotes from. Interesting but I would have preferred a longer novel or collection of stories. (6/10)
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Source: Own copy. To explore on Amazon UK, please click below:
Stevenson Under the Palm Trees by Alberto Manguel, Canongate paperback.