By the author of Waiting in Vain: “A sparkling gift, the tale of a meager, shoeless, raggedy abandoned Cinderella whose hardships make her all the wiser” (The Washington Post).
Set in 1942 on the imagined island of San Carlos—a cultural cocktail of Trinidad, Cuba, and Jamaica—this is the story of Estrella Thompson, a headstrong fourteen-year-old girl who’s forced to fend for herself when she’s banished from the isolated fishing village where she’s lived all her life.
“The Caribbean tragi-comedy of class and colour finds a richly eloquent voice in this pin-sharp innocent abroad.” —The Independent
“[Channer] writes with rare transparency, as though this story of a 14-year-old outcast welled up from the depths of the collective unconscious . . . a jewel of a book.” —Booklist
“A picaresque set on the fictional Caribbean island of San Carlos in 1942, Channer’s rewarding and tense novella follows the journey of fishing village outcast Estrella Thompson, a precocious 14-year-old with a woman’s body who seeks shoes, employment and acceptance.” —Publishers Weekly
“There’s something timeless about Estrella’s yearning for a better life . . . a fairy-tale novella of betrayal and hope.” —Kirkus Reviews
A picaresque set on the fictional Caribbean island of San Carlos in 1942, Channer's rewarding and tense novella follows the journey of fishing village outcast Estrella Thompson, a precocious 14-year-old with a woman's body who seeks shoes, employment and acceptance in the capital city of Seville after being excommunicated from her village. Along the way, she meets sundry men, some of whom offer to help her and almost none of whom ought to be trusted. Estrella comes of age practically by the hour, learning what to expect of others, what to value in herself and how to make her own demands. Channer writes with an intriguing, lyrical blend of English and Caribbean patois and uses simple language and crisp imagery (a woman's face is "as plain and inexpressive as an egg"; beach sand is "so white that on the coolest days you had to squint to see it"). While Channer's earlier work engaged the psyche of Caribbean diaspora in less subtle narratives (Waiting in Vain; Satisfy My Soul), this novella a moral fable, Russell Banks notes in his afterword signals the arrival of a talent matured.