Book review: Landfalls

DELVING into French maritime records to fictionalise a lost voyage is a considerable task for a debut novel, but Naomi J Williams pulls it off with aplomb.

 Her title hints at the structure of her book, which traces the Comte de Laperouse’s doomed attempt to circumnavigate the globe in the late 1770s.

Each chapter expands upon true events in countries visited by the sister ships, Boussole and Astrolabe, told from the perspective of crew members, scientists, natives and relatives. Bookended by omnipotent narration that reveals, Greek chorus-like, the explorers’ fates, Williams cleverly cuts out months of dull seafaring to concentrate on the landfalls, with their politics of empire, savage attacks, murders and maroonings.

It’s a pacey, courageous technique that often withholds vital information for the reader to puzzle out. A magnificent reflection of the genuine mystery that surrounded the expedition for centuries and one of the most unusual books of the year.

Landfalls

Naomi J Williams

Little, Brown, €22.50


Lifestyle

When Marisa Murphy went to play as a teenager on Dinish Island, she could still see the flowers growing among the ruins in her grandmother’Islands of Ireland: Barely inhabitated Dinish became an industrial zone

MAC make-up artist Lucy Bridge shares her tips backstage at Roland Mouret.How to create the perfect matte red lip, according to a backstage beauty expert

New trends include chunky heeled boots, silver belts and lots of plaid from the British designer.Victoria Beckham got ‘rebellious’ for her new collection – as David and family watched on

When horses were shown photographs of angry human faces, their hearts speeded up.Jackass penguin talk is similar to humans

More From The Irish Examiner