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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
Wendy Sura Thomson’s historical personage novel, The Man from Burnt Island, is one of those rare generational tales with a heart. This story reminds you how much power time possesses in turning the wheels of life. It tells the story of Frank Sharp, a man born into a Scottish family having a tough time during the economic upheavals at the turn of the twentieth century. You immediately grasp this as the story opens with Frank receiving encouragement from his schoolmaster to continue his education. Yet, at the dinner table at home, he can’t mention this. As families are being lured by the promise of the Great American Dream, his family sails across the Atlantic for a better life. But Frank had to stay behind, and it took him longer than he expected when the Immigration Act reduced the number of immigrants allowed into the country. Frank will face more social, political, and economic challenges that will shape his legacy and demand him to sacrifice more than he bargained for.
The story is simple and told with strong, evocative details. Wendy Sura Thomson has a talent for capturing the Scottish accent and dialect, and she generously provides you with a guide to understanding Broad Scot at the beginning of her story. Fair warning: Reading the dialogue might not come easily to those conditioned to reading standard English dialogues. However, the way Frank and his fellow Scots speak is true to what Sura Thomson writes: it mirrors Frank’s ambition-driven transformation. The Man from Burnt Island feels very much rooted in the time in which it is set. I believe that it hits the spot of what Tennessee Williams calls a memory play. The beauty of this novel persists, and it creates a strong nostalgia for anyone who has a fondness for family history. The Man from Burnt Island is a novel with a big heart, one that is guaranteed to engage your senses from start to finish.