Orphan Island

Orphan Island

Although I’ve been unable to read Rose Macaulay’s The Towers of Trebizond despite two attempts, I was able to speed through this silly book. The premise is that a woman (Miss Smith), her nurse, a doctor, and a group of orphans were shipwrecked in 1855 on an island in the Pacific. Seventy years later, a descendant of one of the treacherous crew members who deserted them and who leaves behind a map when he dies, steams off into the Pacific with his three children in tow. Mr. Thinkwell, the descendant, is a sociologist and greedy to discover what type of community has sprung up on the island, cut off from all contact. Disappointingly, it’s got an upper class (the Smiths) and lower class (the Orphans) who slave away for them. Shells function as money, and despite not having a copy of the Bible (they do have Wuthering Heights), the island observes Sundays religiously. The Thinkwells are dropped off for a few months and when the boat returns to fetch them, the old Miss Smith (still alive in her 90s) tells some of the prisoners to row out to the boat and overtake it, sail it away. Thus the Thinkwells are marooned, and happily ever after.