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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
An Island Entire Unto Itself is a work of historical fiction based on real events, penned by author Nigel Patten, which promises ‘A portrait of Corsica at the end of the 18th century’. Set during a time when the people of Corsica desired independence from thirty years of French occupation, we meet a young man, Damian Berra, from Valais. Press-ganged and then marooned on the beautiful but troubled island of Corsica, Damian narrates the history of Corsica being offered to England, and the consequent ridding of the French and the difficulties of the British when they encounter “the ungovernable rock”. Real history and personal fictional narrative combine to give an idea of what it must have been like to live during these times.
Author Nigel Patten produces a deeply researched and lovingly written account of the history of Corsica at the turn of its most turbulent century. Damian Berra is a well-chosen lead character to tell this tale for his sense of foreignness to the place allows him to discover the culture, language, and hardships alongside the audience without any predetermined knowledge. The depictions and descriptive language paint a powerful portrait of the island and its people at their best and worst amongst the struggles they face, and the use of dialogue and real Corsican words gives a strong sense of place to the narrative. Overall, An Island Entire Unto Itself presents a strong and adventurous tale of a nation seeking its freedom and is a highly recommended read for history and travel fans alike.