Tom is living on a farm in an unnamed country. Tourism is dwindling and times are getting hard but the richest of food is still being served at the dinner table. He’s tried to win the affection of his father but he just isn’t really anything like his old man, he didn’t choose the country, the land or the business of the farm. He’s not as capable as his father and isn’t able to command such a level of respect.
Things are changing across the country, the farmers are moving on, their farms and estates have become too hard to protect. Tom has never really known life beyond the grand surroundings of the farm, he can’t comprehend how events outside of the farm can have an impact on his world.
Two big events shake the foundations of Tom and his father’s world, the arrival of Carine and a volcanic eruption. People have become well accustomed to violence among humans but they’re not used to the sheer violence of the natural explosion. The arrival of the girl and the explosion herald the vanishing of the place he’s always known.
There is a constant threat to their existence throughout the book, things are always on the verge of boiling over and destroying their livelihood. The people have come to value and seek property, something they’ve learned from their colonial masters.
This book is superbly written, totally engrossing throughout and carries a devastating power. It features some horrific scenes as it describes the changes to the land and to the individual. It shows people losing their grip on power and the dark forces that rise within individuals and groups as they claim what they feel they are owed in the world. It is masterful in its description of the slow deterioration of human life.