Tangled family relationships are the beating heart of Peregrine Island, a novel by Diane B. Saxton, meaning I readily dove into the book. The haunting tale about a piece of art that has the potential to bring an estranged family together — if it doesn’t first divide them beyond repair.
The story unfolds from three points of view: Winter, Elsie, and Peda are a mother, daughter, and granddaughter living together, warily. Echoes of the past tension between Winter and Elsie grow as the women find themselves under Winter’s roof once again, and Elsie’s disdain for her mother twists and turns between the other people in the story.
Peregrine Island sees Winter’s home, for lack of a better word, invaded by art experts with an interest in a painting that’s been a source of personal joy to Winter for as long as she can remember. When addition artwork is found behind the original painting, the tension already in the house escalates, with many of the characters depending on the aging Winter’s seeming fragility.
The plot pulls threads from the past into the present, weaving Elsie’s past relationships with potential current ones. Personally, I had a difficult time sussing out Elsie’s personality throughout the novel, aside from her obviously troubled relationship with her mother.
Her animosity seemed a little too fresh, though it allowed the plot to be driven forward in ways it wouldn’t have been if Elsie and Winter operated as a united presence throughout the entire book. In addition to her relationship with her mother, Elsie’s relationships with men were a bit problematic for me, perhaps because I found Hamlet, one of those men, fairly repellant.
The setting builds the atmosphere of isolation and the immediacy of the sea. Peaceful days protect the family and lull them into complacency, but the island lends itself to storms, as well.
One of my favorite parts of the book is the simplicity of the relationship between Winter and Peda and the clear way Winter prioritizes her family. Her attachment to the painting felt like a tangible way for her to stay connected to her past, and I really enjoyed seeing the story behind the painting come to light through details revealed throughout Perregrine Island.
Peregrine Island‘s strengths center on the mood and how Winter regains her strength and confidence throughout the story. There’s beauty in the way the secrets revealed become secondary to the relationships between the characters, and readers who enjoy character-driven stories with plot twists will appreciate Peregrine Island.