When Nell Stevens is given a fellowship grant to spend three months where ever she wants to write, she chooses one of the most remote places she can. Wanting a sabbatical from distractions, Nell travels to Bleaker, a small island in the Falklands with only sheep, penguins, and a copy of Dickens’ Bleak Houseto keep her company. Bleaker House chronicles her short time on the island and the writing process of her novel.
I absolutely loved the premise of this. Living alone in a cabin on a cold remote island with nothing but penguins for company is truly my idea of heaven. At least for an extended holiday, maybe not forever… However, this book kind of fell flat for me. The beginning was interesting, as the author explained her decision to go to such a remote place to write and met a number of local characters in her first few weeks in Stanley, the Falklands’ capital. Once she got to Bleaker, where the majority of her stay took place, the book started to stagnate for me. For starters, nothing happened. I didn’t expect high-stakes action but I was itching for more than just an account of food rations, the weather, and how much the author feels they’ve failed as a writer. The story of Stevens’ time in the Falklands is interspersed with excerpts from her work-in-progress, other short stories, and personal anecdotes that I didn’t really feel added anything to the story and made the whole thing feel a little all over the place. The final standalone fiction piece pulled me back in a little but by then it was too late and I was just ready to finish the book. I had such high hopes for Bleaker House, which may have just served to compound my disappointment.
Rating: 2 / 5 stars
Read for the Magical Readathon, Care of Magical Creatures exam.