Title: No Man’s Island
Author: Susan Sallis
Published by: Random House UK, Transworld Publishers
Publication date: 31st July 2011
Genre: General/Womens Fiction
When she hears the news of the death of her ex-husband, Binnie feels like her tranquil life in the West Country is over.
To her surprise, she discovers that he has left her the island in the beautiful archipelago off the coast of Cornwall and the dilapidated house where he spent his childhood, and Binnie has to take her family to the island – revisiting it for the first time in years – and work out what to do.
As she becomes involved in the life of the island, and its inhabitants, she has to embark upon a whole new life and discovers many things about her husband – and her own past – that will change everything forever…
I received a copy of No Man’s Island via NetGalley in return for and honest review. My thanks go to NetGalley and the author, Susan Sallis for the copy of this book.
In the spirit of honesty and transparency with this review I will state up-front that I did not finish the book and stopped reading at 54% completion.
What I did read of No Man’s Island I initially found myself engaging with nicely, the plot was progressing to a point and there were elements of intrigue that I found myself curious and eager to uncover the truth of. Yet there wasn’t enough of a hook to keep me engaged properly. The story trails off from one incredulous event to the next in a drifting, wishy-washy fashion that never quite feels solid.
The initial setting of Binnies home and her meeting of key-character Daniel is quite a tale in itself and it was this aspect of No Man’s Island that drew me in. Who is this man and why has Binnie just saved his life? Are they connected in some way? When these questions are answered, they don’t quite satisfy the reader in a concrete way. Everything feels a little to convenient and haphazardly thrown together in a way that makes sense but doesn’t leave a feeling of fulfilment.
We’re quickly introduced to Dorrie – Binnies daughter and her boyfriend, Gabriel. It was here that I began to question the motives of the book. Gabriel has a serious gambling problem and no one has the spine to tell him that he’s wrong in his actions. Even when some serious consequences for his problems happen. The answer is to run away to Cornwall until issues with debt collectors blows over and goes away. It made the lead characters feel weak – an unappealing trait. Why are these supposed strong women pandering to such a serious problem? In align with this thought is that Binnie is swanning off to the island her ex-husband left to her to find out her feelings for him and to see if she still loves him? After having moved on with her life and raising their two children without him for 20+ years? I don’t think so!
As a main, driving character, Binnie was pleasant and I found myself enjoying reading about her and her quirks, but like much else as the story progresses she turns from an endearing character to one that falls a little flat. She starts No Man’s Island full of life and character – then she gets to Cornwall and starts becoming part of the life-style there and it all turns a little for the worse. Life-changing and Earth-Shattering events happen and are discovered on the Islands and it’s put down to ‘Oh that’s just (insert characters name) he’s just a bit of an odd-one.’ This and other explanations of major events that should have more impact but don’t, didn’t sit well with me unfortunately and it all led into a bit of a pile of ‘And then nothing had any lasting or meaningful effect.’ It made the story drag and feel like there was a lot of needless repetition via back-stories.
What kept me going with No Man’s Island for so long was the promise of a good plot supported by well written and quirky characters. Already mentioned is Binnie but supporting her is her immediate and extended family all of whom have their own unique personalities. Characterisation is certainly a strong point for Susan Sallis and those that feature in No Man’s Island are certainly filled with personality. They are a driving force in the novel and help to carry the other, lacking elements previously mentioned.
No Man’s Island is a low-intrigue level book with some wonderful descriptions and quirky characters, but didn’t have enough interest to it to keep me engaged until the end.