Blighted island: Strangers at the Port, by Lauren Aimee Curtis, reviewed

Lauren Aimee Curtis, born in Sydney and recently named one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists, sets her intriguing second book on the Aeolian island of Salina in the late 19th century, when the arrival of phylloxera destroyed the island’s vines and economy, prompting mass emigration. These facts are easy to deduce, especially with the clarification provided in the author’s note, but in the novel itself Curtis names the island ‘S’ and the time becomes ‘that spring, when the men arrived’. She entices us into the mythical realm of not-quite history. Part One is narrated by Giulia, looking back to when she was ten years old and telling her