Italian Shoes Henning Mankell 2006

This novel, where an island in the Swedish archipelago in a dying sea is a main character, represents the embodiment of John Donne’s “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of a continent.”

The island sanctuary of the protagonist, a disgraced MD, prisoner of his avoidance personality and selfishness, is invaded by past misdeeds. The force of the interventions challenge him to open his compartmentalized self to the possibility of change, reject isolation and rejoin the continent of the living by accepting responsibility for his own actions and coming to care about others.

An ‘I-couldn’t-put-the-book-down’ kind of read, the book overplays situations with violent drama (SPOILER ALERT: near rape, cat/dog/maggots, suicide by sword, death throes) plus redemption comes at a price: heart failure. Never once did I ‘like’ the protagonist, whose name I can’t recall.                                                                                                                                         7.5/10


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