Lighthouse Island: Book summary and reviews of Lighthouse Island by Paulette Jiles

Lighthouse Island

A Novel

by Paulette Jiles

Lighthouse Island

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Book Summary

In the coming centuries the world's population has exploded. The earth is crowded with cities, animals are nearly all extinct, and drought is so widespread that water is rationed. There are no maps, no borders, no numbered years, and no freedom, except for an elite few.

It is a harsh world for an orphan like Nadia Stepan. Growing up, she dreams of a green vacation spot called Lighthouse Island, in a place called the Pacific Northwest.

When an opportunity for escape arises, Nadia embarks on a dangerous and sometimes comic adventure. Along the way she meets a man who changes the course of her life: James Orotov, a mapmaker and demolition expert. Together, they evade arrest and head north toward a place of wild beauty that lies beyond the megapolis - Lighthouse Island.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Jiles's prose is a striking match for the barren landscape of this moody adventure tale." - Publishers Weekly

"Jiles writes beautifully but paces the novel glacially." - Kirkus

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Poet, memoirist, and novelist Paulette Jiles was born and raised in the Missouri Ozarks and moved to Canada in 1969 after graduating with a degree in Romance languages from the University of Missouri at Kansas City. She spent eight years as a journalist in Canada, before turning to writing poetry. In 1984, she won the Governor General's Award (Canada's highest literary honor) for Celestial Navigation, a collection of poems lauded by the Toronto Star as "...fiercely interior and ironic, with images that can mow the reader down."

In 1992, Jiles published Cousins, a beguiling memoir that interweaves adventure and romance into a search for her family roots. Ten years later, she made her fiction debut with Enemy Women (2002), the survival story of an 18-year-old woman caged with the criminally insane in a St. Louis prison during the Civil War. Janet Maslin raved in The New York Times, "This is a book with backbone, written with tough, haunting eloquence by an author determined to capture the immediacy of he heroine's wartime odyssey." The book won the Willa Literary Award for Historical Fiction (U.S.) and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize (Canada).

In her second novel, 2007's Stormy Weather, Jiles mined another rich trove of American history. Set in Texas oil country during the Great Depression, the story traces the lives of four women, a widow and her three daughters, as they struggle to hold farm and family together in a hardscrabble world of dust storms, despair, and deprivation. In its review, The Washington Post praised the author's lyrical prose, citing descriptions that "crackle with excitement." Stormy Weather became the fourth selection in the Barnes & Noble Recommends program.

A dual citizen of the United States and Canada, Jiles currently lives on a ranch near San Antonio, Texas.

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