“This sensitive, introspective story, exquisitely told, takes place on Lanzarote, in the Canary Islands. Ann, a hydrologist, has come to Lanzarote to escape for a few weeks, but even here, finds that there’s no escaping the trauma bubbling up inside. She begins to write, partly as a means to come to terms with the end of a difficult marriage and a troubled relationship with her sister. Together with author friend Richard and local potter, Domingo, she wanders the island’s small villages, beaches, and cliffs, trying to reconcile her past and chart a path for the future.
Ann is unfailingly astute, using her scientist’s acumen to seek clarity where she can. The honesty of her shrewd observations on herself, on the people around her, and on life itself, set the Drago Tree apart from other stories of its ilk. Author Isobel Blackthorn has captured well the intense, raw beauty of this small volcanic idyll. Highly recommended.” – Linda, Amazon reviewer
“I had not heard of the island of Lanzarote before I picked up this book but I was transported to a place both fragile and enduring. Ann Salter goes there to escape her life. She is also a bit fragile. She falls in love with the island and draws strength from its landscapes. Beautifully written this book gets to the heart of the woman and the island.” – Kathryn, Trip Fiction
“It’s impossible to pigeon hole The Drago Tree, which is fine, but it makes it hard to review. It isn’t a love story, it isn’t a thriller, a mystery or a guide book. But it would make an exceptional movie, and provide some marvellous roles for the lead characters.
If you’re a lover of Lanzarote, particularly the north of the island, you’ll enjoy the book. It will certainly put you “mentally” here. And if you enjoy getting under the skin of some interesting characters, then it’s one for you.
I’m left with the feeling that the book was written as much for the author as it was for the reader, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’m curious to know how biographical it is – I suspect there is plenty of Isobel in Ann, and I may even have an inkling as to who Domingo and Richard are based on.” – Miguel, Lanzarote Information
“The Drago Tree by Isobel Blackthorn is a story of self-discovery and understanding oneself and life. The story is mainly about Ann, along with two other characters, Domingo and Richard, who teach her different things about herself and life.
Ann runs away from an abusive husband and travels to the exotic island of Lanzarote, a Spanish-speaking island off the coast of Morocco. Personally, I had never heard of it but having read this book, I fell in love with it.
The Drago Tree is a beautiful example of travel literature, as Blackthorn gives the reader exquisite detail about the setting and the country.
“For Ann, names were important. A change of name wasn’t just about change of ownership; it involved change of identity. Even married to Andrew, she’d held onto Salter.”
When Ann arrives on the island, she begins by writing a single sentence and is quite critical of herself. She meets the handsome author Richard, who gives her harsh criticism, but also introduces her to the local potter-maker Domingo.
Ann then begins to write regularly, but the story takes up after many of her experiences and her family problems, particularly those of her sister and failed marriage – both of whom we are introduced to in the form of flashbacks.
“Too many times she’d been shut in this courtroom of a marriage, forced by her own sense of injustice to defend her position to an irascible judge.”
Some of the flashbacks were a bit confusing for me, especially when they were in a new chapter. Both Ann and Richard have flashbacks.
The Drago Tree is full of stunning imagery, quotes, lines and setting. The pace is very slow; however, the book is an experience in of itself.
The overall description, whether for characters, emotions or setting, was done very well. If Blackthorn ever decides to give writing courses, I’ll be the first to sign up. The narrative is simply brilliant.
“He was a bulldozer of a man, with a deep gravelly voice. He had bushy eyebrows, flaring nostrils, and a coat hanger of a moustache.”
I particularly liked the idea of Ann writing, first a sentence, then later a book. The writing process is a kind of catharsis for her – and many writers can relate to that. It was interesting for me to see how her views of her writing and of Richard develop in the course of the novel.
“While her writing allowed for a certain outpouring of emotion, the narrative was about as therapeutic as a knife twisting in her guts…May be she needed to change the characters’ names, make them less like their real life counterparts.”
Character development is significant for the main character Ann. I liked Domingo, whom Richard sees merely a source of information and history to help with his book, but who is truly a wiser person than Richard, with his colonialist views, is.
“Before long she was a faucet turned on full, words blasting out of her, tumbling so fast her pen could scarcely keep apace.” – Nadanessinmotion Book blog
“The Drago Tree, the name and the cover appealed from the start, and then from the first page, I was in love with the beautiful prose, the elegantly constructed sentences, which promised an intelligent and insightful story, sensitively told.
I was not disappointed.
The novel is set on the island of Lanzarote, brought to life by an author who knows it intimately. With confidence, she lavishes poetic descriptions of its unique landscape, placing you there; making you feel, see and fall in love with the place.
For example, the character Ann sees from her car window: “Several calderas pimpled the land to the south-west. The lava plain, to the south of her now, rose to meet its mother, La Corona, a monolith of black in the fading light.”
The author applies her talent for intricate detail to her characters as well. The trio we focus upon are complex, flawed, vulnerable…
It is Ann’s journey we follow, and I really enjoyed the snippets of her past that were revealed to us, providing intriguing, and at times, disturbing encounters with her sister.
The island’s past and history is also heavily featured; and I could not help but champion and understand Ann’s sympathy for an island ravished by tourists, its past and culture presented in superficial and sensational ways to serve as a diversion to the damage being done to natural habitats.
Through Ann we are able to connect with what is natural, meaningful and raw – she is despite her troubled and haunting past, an idealist, an artist – a cloud catcher!
I found it a delightful and enjoyable read… the believable relationships explored in the novel developed, expanded and evolved swiftly, adding sprinkles of romance and mystery to an inner journey taking place in an exotic location.
I recommend this novel if you like superb writing and reading a novel that has something meaningful to say about people, places and life.” – Michelle Saftich, Goodreads