Stretching from the macabre reaches of 1930s colonial Africa to today's edgy travel hotspots, a moving epistolary narrative is separated by gritty vignettes, all linked by the ownership of a fountain pen
In 1933, Ralph leaves England for a new life on the island of Lamu, a journey forced upon him by his fiancee's father. In a series of letters, he writes to Lilian using her parting gift?a Mabie Todd, Blackbird No 8 ink pen with a heart-shaped reservoir. Despite getting no replies, Ralph describes the journey, his fellow passengers, and upon arrival, his colleagues and other ex-pats. In time, Ralph comes to the conclusion that any feelings he had for his lover were delusional. He makes the life-changing decision not to return to the land of his birth, and sends the pen back to a still-silent Lilian. As their story unfolds and reaches the final and permanent severing of ties, author Alex Baker spreads more modern tales of lost love and broken friendships in increasingly exotic locations between his hero's missives. The common factor throughout is the pen passed by Lilian to her granddaughter whose father was the product of a moment of passion snatched before Ralph left the cold shores of England. The tightness of these vignettes is masterful, and the twist in the tale is at once moving and deeply satisfying.