How do you enter a world that is stripped of language?
This is Mannie’s dilemma as she enters Ward B on a hot July’s day, to visit her husband Ralph.
Ralph, an eminent cosmologist, and talented artist, is in the later stages of dementia. The story reflects back to the beginnings of Ralph’s illness and gradually draws the reader into his confused inner world. This world is fleshed out by fragmented memories of his childhood, his troubled relationship with his father, and a life-long quest to bring science and spirituality into harmony.
Blue-Grey Island has been described as delicately written, full of energy and ideas.
The novel explores the theme of what constitutes personal identity and offers a way into understanding dementia. It is primarily a story about human relationships - told through the history of Ralph’s family, which has been shrouded in mystery. It is also a novel of ideas that raises questions concerning the conflict between faith and rational knowledge, the role of the artistic imagination in the survival of a troubled mind, and how we might find a way to communicate with another’s confusion.
The past impacts on the present, and the presence of memory, in all of its subtle and more obvious forms, is woven within a tapestry of events that begin in Paris 1886, and lead up to the present day. As such, this is both an historical novel and a story particularly resonant of our time.