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Summary

He handed the easel to the boatman, reaching down the pier wall towards the sea.

Mr Lloyd has decided to travel to the island by boat without engine - the authentic experience.

Unbeknownst to him, Mr Masson will also soon be arriving for the summer. Both will strive to encapsulate the truth of this place - one in his paintings, the other with his faithful rendition of its speech, the language he hopes to preserve.

But the people who live here on this rock - three miles long and half-a-mile wide - have their own views on what is being recorded, what is being taken and what is given in return. Over the summer each of the women and men in the household this French and Englishman join is forced to question what they value and what they desire. At the end of the summer, as the visitors head home, there will be a reckoning.

©2022 Audrey Magee (P)2022 Faber Audio

Critic reviews

"The Colony is a vivid and memorable book about art, land and language, love and sex, youth and age. Big ideas tread lightly through Audrey Magee’s strong prose." (Sarah Moss)

"The Colony is brimming with ideas about identity and soul; a canny, challenging, and never less than engrossing read." (Lisa McInerney)

What listeners say about The Colony

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simply brilliant

The narration of this wonderful story was outstanding. This book is a work of art

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Well worth listening

Reviewer Callum has noted the outstanding job of narration / performance here by Stephen Hogan and I agree this is a terrific achievement.
Audrey Magee's novel has many passages of great beauty. Her dialogue is excellent, particularly how she conveys the oblique, wary speech of the islanders with its humour. The early scene of the English artist being rowed in a currach is beautifully done, the characters revealing themselves convincingly in their speech.
Unfortunately the writer abandons that credibility in a later scene where the oldest woman on the island becomes a mouthpiece for Magee's own ruminations on history and culture. She falls into the same trouble with the internal monologue of the fifteen year old boy who becomes astonishingly articulate on art and philosophy in a very short time.
Meanwhile we get a series of insertions recounting particular murders in the Northern Ireland troubles - these deserve to be remembered and are on record in excellent histories and journalistic works about the period. However I found their use in this novel jarred and felt increasingly banal as the stories accumulate - the opposite effect to what might be desired. I reckon her employment of the murder of Mountbatten and those who were with him on the boat in Sligo works well and would have been enough without the catalogue she keeps returning to.
However, I would not discourage anyone from listening to this audiobook. There is much to enjoy and admire about it. The outcome of the interaction between the 'colonist' artist and the young islander here is a subtly enough managed metaphor for the colonial relationship in history which carries the sour taste of truth.

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“Self Portrait: Review”

Stephen Hogan gives an outstanding, polyphonic performance - probably the best audiobook I’ve listened to. Aided by his native Irish, Hogan’s voice is well-endowed to capture every nuance of speech; every intonation, accent and inflection expressed with technical mastery and a coherent sense of character. Since there’s a Frenchman, an Englishman and a host of Irish characters (who never walk into a bar!); male, female and of various ages, including a matriline of widows whose declining mother tongue the author is interested in charting, the distinction of character Hogan delivers is crucial. As a result, we are potently drawn into the melancholic, lilting world of Magee’s novel, full of yearning, starved, but not hopeless, existences and untameable forces of nature: a neo-colonial allegory, set on a remote island against the backdrop of the Troubles whose fatalities intercut each chapter before gradually, poignantly bleeding into the diegetic action of the plot itself. It’s a real tour de force and a testament to the collaborative capacity of audiobooks: the synergy of art, author and actor.

2 people found this helpful