ook, stranger. on this island

now, wrote W. H. Auden. an

injunction not far from the lips of George Campbell as he abducts his drug-addicted daughter Chris

and removes her to Breagda. a

of the situation. The St Kildans were exiled. some by force. others going willingly but reluctantly; Chris‘s journey is ‘the replay in reverse of the exile theme‘. and against her will.

deserted island bevond the tentacles A 01‘1"" Again“ DNW'N’W is a

of the London pushers. It is an YOCk'poolof a novel. clear and deep

extreme gesture. Chris is hooked and infinitely fascmating. It has the

and sinking. She makes resolutions paCC Of a pot-boiler without

She cannot keep and Campbell and betraying HS SCTIOUSUCSS. ll don‘t see

his wife are despcrmc‘ their why the reader should care a tinker’s

marriage as close to the rocks as the CUSS for Whit! S tinder the surface.’

small boat in the boiling sea which Says Fredcnc L'nd53Y~ ‘lf thTC isn‘t 21

takes Campbell and Christo . . . strong narrative tug to pull him Breagda. But once ashore. ‘He Michael Allen talks to Frederic Lindsay, author of “Oils? _ . .

despajrcd Ofm-dkmg her feel the idea Brand about new novel A Charm Against Drowning A ( liarmAgazrm [)rowmngzs of the island.‘ The ‘idea‘ of the island l I{ub/w/m1b.v Andre Dean‘ch at intrigues and draws Campbell as it l “095- does Frederic Lindsay. its isolation. l alienation.self-sufficiency.

sclflcomainmcm‘ thc literary over whom the island has no hold. : ‘Have you any right to interfere in a '? antecedents_ And in any case. says ’10 what extent can you possess a I person‘s life and drag them away'?’

Lindsay. ‘it was a plausible thing to landscape that doesn‘t have Questions to mull over. But one

do. memories for you‘.". asks Lindsay. can‘t help but be struck by the irony

What indeed can you do when you know that someone you love will kill themselves ifthey don't stop taking drugs? This is one of the questions Frederic Lindsay asks in his third 5 novel. A Charm Against Drowning. His first two novels called for readers 5 blessed without nervous dispositions; Bro/1d (whose Channel 4 mini-series starts its re-run this fortnight) and Jill Rips. books as compelling as they were bleak. elliptical thrillers shockful of eviscerating. callous violence. Books you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley.

But ifthey were ‘X' rated then A (.‘harm Against Drowning is ‘AA‘.

Its violence is chiefly psychological. the grim determinism of a failed father pitted against a daughter with adeth wish. The voyage to Breagda is a return trip for Campbell. Modelled on St Kilda. the tiny island abandonned in mid-Atlantic and evacuated in 1930. Breagda was the home ofCampbell‘s forebears. his grandfather providing the last link between that cutoffsociety and the mainland.

‘Campbell‘. says Frederic Lindsay. i ‘is a man addicted to his past as Chris is to drugs.‘ For Cam bell the return ' - to Breagda is a repossession of his happen“. It was “Re a bad omen.

past.Butthis does not applvto Chris 3 “7 g g, - h someone had pum‘e phone v i . . - . downattheotherend.

‘7 J" :7- t - ~' .‘ s .. v

' ‘- f‘ "4 33-. L 1 ‘- ’. it: .V


‘Hello?’ lie listened to the silence sighing; a continent ot silence with the sea at its edge, like the shells he had held to his ear as a child. ‘This isn’t doing you any good,’ he said. ‘You're not going to get near Chris again. ltook her away trom you.‘ Someone opposed him and that opposition was boundless and without restraint. He read the silence like the eyes at an enemy and cried. ‘I hope you rot in hell!’ But for him that was an excess, and, sobered, he remembered that the line had been made ex-directory. No one was there. Yet whispered, ‘Don't you know when you’re beaten?’

In the clear light that promised heat later, he set out with his wile and daughter on the motorway from London to the north. As he drove, his thoughts kept turning back to what had

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52 The List 15 28 April 1988