Updated: May 4, 2020
With Wolfe Island Lucy Treloar addresses two problems which we, as global citizens face, and have the potential to develop into more dire problems in the future, especially if you live in certain geographical areas. The problems are rising sea levels caused by global warming and the plight of refugees and how they are treated.
Treloar clouds her work in ambiguity. The reader doesn’t know how far into the future this novel takes place, we hear of a war, but between who, even the location of Wolfe Island is a mystery, somewhere off the northeast coast of America. So, what do we know?
Kitty Hawke lives a hermit’s existence on Wolfe Island. The rising sea levels are slowly, indelibly, swallowing the island. The other residents left long ago, their houses empty shells, inevitably breaking down. She owns a domesticated wolfdog named Girl. A companion more loyal than any human being she has known. Kitty has chosen this solitary life, shunning life on the mainland, only making rare trips to it for supplies. She dislikes the mainland and what it has become.
Kitty is an artist, a sculptor whose creations are built from the detritus, rubbish, and objects she finds all over the island, washed up on the shore.
Kitty’s solitary life is shattered forever when her granddaughter arrives by boat with some others. Treloar keeps her cards close to her chest and again the reader is left stumbling in the dark. It is obvious they are running from something, but what? When hunters start to arrive on their trail. Kitty, granddaughter, Girl and the others are forced to flee the island.
The novel is broken into three parts, and I must say that the narrative and writing improve as the story unfolds and progresses. If the whole novel was of the same standard as the brilliant last part, the last twenty percent of the book, this would have been closer to a five star read for me.
The gradual submerging of Wolfe Island is used as a metaphor for the approaching danger to islands, coastal cities, and even countries imposed by global warming.
The refugee issue is told in snippets, stories, and rumours as to what is happening to refugees trying to “sneak” into the mainland from the south. And from the attitudes of the people they come across while fleeing their pursuers. While fleeing their pursuers, there is a pervading feeling of lawlessness similar to Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road”.
If you are starting this book and it’s not “clicking” bear with it, because it does improve with each page. And as I said before, part three, “Home”, is beautifully written and is worth the reading. The reader is finally rewarded, the light is turned on, and some of the mystery revealed.
A well written, enjoyable read, especially if subtle dystopian novels with their fingers on the pulse of the times are your thing. 4 Stars!
Lucy Treloar was born in Malaysia and educated in England, Sweden and Melbourne. Her debut novel "Salt Creek" won the Indie Award for Best Debut, the ABIA Matt Richell Award and the Dobbie Award, was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award and the Walter Scott Prize, and was published in Europe, the UK and North America. A winner of the Commonwealth Short Story(Pacific), Lucy's short fiction and non-fiction have been widely published. Lucy is an Artist in Residence at the Meat Market in Melbourne. She lives in inner Melbourne with her family. "Wolfe Islane" is her second novel.
There is a link here to an interview with Lucy from Queensland Reviewers Collective - https://queenslandreviewerscollective.wordpress.com/2019/09/25/an-interview-with-lucy-treloar-author-of-wolfe-island/