Throughout her youth, and
for five years after she left, life on Seychelles was as close
as one could come on Earth to life on a separate
planet. Mahé is separated
from Africa, the nearest continent, by a thousand miles of
ocean. To the northeast, the nearest point of
India is fifteen hundred
miles, and to the east, Australia is two-and-a-half
thousand miles. To travel to the USA,
Lise had to start by taking
the three-day voyage to Mombasa. For most
Seychellois, most of the time, the only evidence
of the outside world were the procession of expatriate
British colonial administrators, the London traders
who came for the annual copra and spice auctions, and the
evening news broadcast on shortwave radio from
the BBC World Service. None of these did much to
engage the minds of a population that was largely
self-sufficient, that found enough of interest
in its own communal life, and that normally spoke
French or the local Creole patois. The rhythm
of daily life still followed the pattern established
in the eighteenth century by the French settlers
who colonised the islands.
The isolation of this little world was ended
with the opening of the international airport
in 1974, followed shortly by independence,
tourists, and many changes.
Despite the usual claims of the
tourist promoters, the Seychelles of Lise's
youth has gone. Even without
its gripping story, this novel would stand as
a unique record of that vanished place and time.
comes originally from Seychelles, then a British colony in the Indian Ocean.
Her ancestors were French colonial settlers,
who left France before
After O-levels and a two-year stint in the Civil Service, she
returned to education, completed A-levels and won a scholarship to
Brown University, in Providence, Rhode Island where she met her Irish husband.
She majored in English and French literature, qualified as a Secondary teacher
and taught in a public school. She moved to Los Angeles for two years and then to Ireland,
where she raised three children and engaged in many voluntary activities,
among them organising a youth club and adult daytime education. Nowadays, she
continues her voluntary work, enjoys her seven grandchildren,
and for recreation engages in choral singing, walking and gardening.
been writing for years but latterly has given it more time.
In 2003 one of her short stories, Boy, was shortlisted for
The Hennessy Prize.
In 2015 her second novel The Tears of God
made the Long List in the Writers Centre Novel Fair.
The present novel, her first, had the working title
Isabelle, after the name of the principal
character. The present title is inspired by Isabelle's
progression from an idyllic childhood to increasingly