Peregrine Island: Diane Saxton
Imagine finding out that a painting hanging on your wall for many years is worth millions. Dusty, old, and yet the paint itself looking pristine you decide to find out its worth. It is the story of Winter, Elise and Peda three women who have inherited this painting thinking it was created and painted by Simon Crandor. Each character is portrayed separately and depicted quite vividly as the author allows readers to hear the thoughts and feelings of each one beginning with Winter Peregrine, living on a private island on the Long Island Sound with her daughter Elsie, not very close or caring about her, her granddaughter, Peda who seems closer to her than her own mother and two art experts who make their way into her home, creating havoc, appearing to appraise the painting a family heirloom and present a front that will make readers wonder just what they are really hoping to do. The painting appears to be one that few have ever viewed or scene and one of the few the author relates privately held Crandors. The two experts are the painter’s grandsons, Hamlet or Ham and an art expert who are duty bound to find out what the piece is worth and if it is authentic. As you join them taking apart the frame within this painting they find hidden documents and other paintings. How they got there is a mystery? Why another mystery? Who will profit? Who will lose when the truth comes out? As the group continues to check out the paintings and realizes that one scene is a family and the next something filled with disjointed objects and disturbing we learn about a letter directed to George Peregrine and the entire group begins to wonder what really happened to Simon. Was it murder?
Throughout the book we hear many different voices within each chapter and the thrust of each character’s mood is often controlled by the weather. The dark clouds, the ice, snow and the morose scenery tends to influence the moods of both Winter and Elise as they try to come to terms with the history behind the painting and the two others found hidden beneath the surface. Added in the dark characters from the Getty who came to asses the painting to determine its authenticity and Hamlet the grandson of the painter who thinks that there is murder in the air related to his grandfather and that something about the paintings does not ring true. As he interacts with both Elise who is supposed to be his love interest, Winter who he seems to be trying to intimidate and force into an unholy alliance to learn more about the paintings, Clay another love interest of Winter, brings in someone who supposedly is an art expert. Added in Peda seems fragile and afraid and she loves Winter and realizes as Winter does that her relationship with her mother is not solid or filled with warmth and hugs nor is Elise’s relationship with Winter. Then Hamlet decides to stick another twist or thorn in Winter’s side as the truth behind who Peda’s father is comes front and center as Elise is injured but finds herself face to face with her past.
The story becomes more intricate as we get to know an older man named Jake who Peda has taken a special liking to and who turns out to be someone who wants to remain a shadow and not himself. Hiding in plain sight and yet alive and in living color this man would easily take what is happening in Winter’s home, the investigation into the paintings, the hidden secrets about what Hamlet thinks happened to his grandfather and a legacy that was given to others might change. Each character has her own hidden turmoil as Peda sees something that her mother does, disowns her as her parent and Elise decides to go off on her own in order to escape the realities of her life. As Winter laments about what is happening in front of her she confronts someone who might change it all. This is a sad story of people who are so disjointed, so unfeeling and yet their emotions shine through when it concerns them of they realize that a piece of them might be gone. Peda provides the glue within this story to connect everyone or keep them centered or together as a family while Robin/Sebastian and Hamlet come to blows over Elise who seems to revel in creating conflict.
When Elise takes her boat out and gets lost in the fog she spots someone out there hoping he will guide her back to the island. It’s as if she sees a mirage, does not acknowledge the person nor does she make any real advances to know him better as he does not want to remain or know her after guiding her back home.
When the police return and assess the situation why does Hamlet vouch for the two older men? When we learn more about Jake and we understand his role will someone realize the hidden truth? Barry Zinger and Horatio Guardi what secrets were they hiding and when the truth behind how the paintings were placed as well as the letters hidden from view is revealed an entire family will never be the same. One child named Peda seems to see things and life through different eyes and more clearly than her own mother or grandmother. Face to face with Hamlet, Sebastian, Winter, Elise, Peda and the police as the art expert Sophia and Clay her co-conspirator want nothing more than to gain from what is revealed. But, will they? Take a closer look along with Winter at the painting and realize just whom the artist painted and who it really is. Look even closer and listen as someone explains the fate of an artist that just wanted his work to be accepted. Cover-ups, deceits, betrayals, lies and murder are all part of this complex plot as one family comes face to face with a harsh reality that many might not be able to accept. Winter, Elise, Peda and even Sebastian and Hamlet each competing for attention, each one wanting to be good enough for someone close to them yet never getting there. Peregrine Island might be a beautiful place with amazing scenery and a lost peacock who makes it presence known and who just wants his scream to be heard as Elise, Winter, Peda and the rest do but will they ever stop to listen? A story quite complex and an author who takes a simple plot of two paintings added behind a canvas and creates a plot so complex, so unique of a family who competed with each other and never stop to just enjoy life. Peregrine Island: the secrets lie beneath the surface will they rise up? What appears to be on the surface and what you see on this island just might be a mirage if you do not see past the mist to find what is truly there.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ Magazine