Burning Marguerite is a deepening spiral of narrative, built upon a bundle of tightly-drawn characters and infused with beautiful language. Elizabeth Inness-Brown's first novel resonates with tragedy, beginning with the discovery of ninety-year-old Marguerite Deo's body by her ward James Jack, a scene drawn in startling detail.
Through the author's effective use of flashback, we see the bond forged between Marguerite (Tante) and James, beginning with the tragic fiery death of his parents on the frozen lake. Marguerite, isolated and exiled from the island's inhabitants, eagerly takes the boy under her wing, nurturing him into adulthood. James Jack's final promise to Tante haunts the novel's narrative, fostering a sad and poignant end.
As the story progresses, utilizing Marguerite's first-person narrative and James' third-person point-of-view, we slowly learn of Marguerite's girlhood tragedy, her unfortunate marriage in New Orleans, her return to the island. The novel also chronicles James' burgeoning relationship with the unhappily married Faith, an island visitor.
By the end of the novel, the pieces come together with a poetic intensity. The language of the novel is what really sets it apart. The book also skillfully depicts the isolation of the individual in the context of home and society, the things that bind us together -- what tears us apart. Burning Marguerite, a highly- skilled peice of work, is a definitely recommended read.