Leah is a gripping novel that had me devouring each page. An artist married to a wealthy salesman, Mar, travels to a remote and secluded island with her daughter to devote herself to her passion for painting. Once on the island, her status as a stranger becomes increasingly accentuated. This Spanish-speaking island is not one accustomed to outside influences, and is tormented by its own wrath and secrets escalating from a hidden past.
The protagonist’s marginality acts to unravel dormant events that have troubled the spirits of this tight-knit community. Haffar depicts beautifully the complexities of human relationships, which are dramatized by the evocation of a dominant and inhospitable landscape. Characters and natural forces merge to suggest the past as a powerful current of its own, dictating the wilderness of the island’s relationships and extremities.
Whether you are a restless romantic or thrill-seeker, Leah is a wonderful read. Mar’s magnetic attraction to the fisherman Sebastian becomes a central thread of the novel, through which the past is uncloaked. Their attraction is founded on experiences of past love and loss, rendering it profound and cathartic. The mysterious disappearance of Sebastian’s sister at sea, Leah, and the subsequent loss of his mother, during his childhood haunt the island figuratively and in its human relationships. Mar becomes the catalyst for the discovery of the truth, and the acceptance of a past that turbulently alters the meanings of honour, love and loyalty in this windswept panorama. As an artist with faltering eyesight and at a moment of crisis in her marriage, Mar intrepidly discovers a new world through her painting and relationships previously unknown to her.
Review by Natalia Davies
Posted on 01/02/2017
by Sue Cawte filed under