A moving and original debut novel. Observant, warm and extraordinary.
'There is an other-worldly quality about the Abrolhos which is beyond the reach of ordinary storytelling. Emily Brugman has captured them, staked them to the page in all their isolation and aridity and scoured indifference, because her storytelling is extraordinary.' Jock Serong, bestselling author of Preservation
'Strongly written, deeply felt, original.' Tegan Bennett Daylight
'Beautiful, fresh, wise and true - startlingly good.' - Robert Drewe, award-winning author of Whipbird
In the mid-1950s, a small group of Finnish migrants set up camp on Little Rat, a tiny island in an archipelago off the coast of Western Australia. The crayfishing industry is in its infancy, and the islands, haunted though they are by past shipwrecks, possess an indefinable allure.
Drawn here by tragedy, Onni Saari is soon hooked by the stark beauty of the landscape and the slivers of jutting coral onto which the crayfishers build their precarious huts. Could these reefs, teeming with the elusive and lucrative cray, hold the key to a good life?
The Islands is the sweeping story of the Saari family: Onni, an industrious and ambitious young man, grappling with the loss of a loved one; his wife Alva, quiet but stoic, seeking a sense of belonging between the ramshackle camps of the islands and the dusty suburban lots of the mainland; and their pensive daughter Hilda, who dreams of becoming the skipper of her own boat. As the Saari's try to build their future in Australia, their lives entwine with those of the fishing families of Little Rat, in myriad and unexpected ways.
A stunning, insightful story of a search for home.