On Highborne Cay in The Bahamas, an urban couple has to adjust to island life.
I don’t watch a lot of TV, but one of my guilty pleasures (okay, I don’t really feel guilty) is Goodbye Deutschland, a reality show that follows German families who move abroad. These families usually move to some picturesque holiday destination to start a new life by opening a sausage bar or a bed-and-breakfast (or something along those lines). After a long day at work, it soothes my mind to watch these people try to start a new life somewhere completely foreign.
Life On A Rock by K.A. Albury has a similar premise: after raising two children and climbing the corporate career ladder, Albury and her husband move to Highborne Cay as the newly-appointed island managers. With no prior experience as island managers (or any menial work), the book tells the story of how they learnt the ins and outs of island living.
Highborne Cay is one of the out-islands of The Bahamas, and having finished reading a book from every country starting with A, this also means that I’ve now reached the Bs! This is my second Carribbean read (the first one was Dancing Nude In The Moonlight by Joanne C. Hillhouse; Antigua and Barbuda). I don’t know much about The Bahamas, except: 1) when I hear “Bahamas”, I think “vacation”, 2) there’s an island with pigs swimming in the ocean. The Bahamas were also where Columbus first landed in the new world, and they are home to Castaway Cay, a private island owned by the Disney corporation, only accessible through their cruise ships.
You should read Life On A Rock if you like to learn about the 5000 ways how ships in the Bahamas get in trouble: much of the book is distress call after distress call, and they all go down the same way: Kate hears a distress call while working in the shop/doing some paperwork/thinking about how hard her life is, asks the caller to switch to channel 14 (I learnt a lot about VHFs and boat communication in this book), there’s some boat that got stranded/lost power/has someone injured, Kate and her husband run to help, everything turns out fine in the end. These are nice stories taken each by itself, of course, but the formulaic telling and repetition quickly made me lose interest.
Another major theme in the book is the tension between the Alburys as island managers and the owners of the island – first Mary Smith, later a group of five business people. The Alburys feel exploited by Mary Smith from the start, and while I have no doubt that this is true, sometimes their complaints seemed to disregard the simple fact that they were employees and not the owners of the islands.
Due to its journal-like quality, Life On A Rock lacks a unified storyline, memorable characters, suspense, and humour. Yes, I know you don’t always have all of these things in non-fiction, but it makes reading about Albury’s island adventures quite dull after a while. It reminded me a bit of the Floreana-books by Margret Wittmer and Dore Strauch, with the difference that the entire Floreana story is a lot more out-of-the-ordinary and entertaining than Albury’s account.
Title: Life On A Rock Author: K.A. Albury First Published: 2009