The Tempest is my absolute all-time favourite Shakespeare play. I love the setting, and the concept of it and basically everything it chooses to be.
I’ve owned Billie’s Kiss by Elizabeth Knox for a few years (won it on the Trade Me book quiz actually – lol) and decided this year I’d give it a smack, finally. Also I’m trying to read more of my own books but that’s another story ….
Anyway. It’s Spring, 1903. Billie Paxton is travelling to a remote island with her sister and brother-in-law where he’s set to take up a position as curator for the local lord.
However, things don’t exactly go to plan when the ship explodes. Billie survives because she jumps ship before the explosion, although she can’t say later why she jumped, and Henry her brother-in-law survives but Billie’s sister and Henry’s wife Edith drowns.
So begins Billie’s new life on the island of Kissack and Skilling under a very black cloud.
She negotiates her new life under the suspicious gaze of Murdo Hesketh, a fellow passenger on the ship.
I keep going back and forth. I loved The Vintner’s Luck, which remains one of my favourite books, and I liked Billie’s Kiss – a lot – but I think love is too strong a word. I kept waiting for … something, and I still couldn’t tell you what I was waiting for.
There are a lot of scenes in which nothing exactly happens, although the subtext is rife, and then there are several action-driven sequences which kind of go … I’m not even sure.
I will say, though, that I loved Billie as a character. She’s complex, independent and fearless and the absolute opposite of a shrinking violet.
My feelings for Murdo Hesketh were more complicated – mostly by the fact that he suspected Billie of sabotage for longer than he should have in face of the evidence presented.
If I were opening a box of Roses chocolates, let’s say this is the one with strawberry filling. Never a favourite, but still tasty in its own way.