Back in 1994 I spent a couple of weeks in Mauritius, it was a holiday, a wedding and a voyage of discovery. It’s the place where a 26-year-old who was terrified of the water, a girl who couldn’t swim, walked on the bottom of the Indian Ocean. Although my prince charming turned out to be a toad, I still have many happy memories of my time on the island and reading The Prospector brought back images of sugar cane plantations, striking coastlines and the smiles of the local people.
The Prospector is written by J M G Le Clézio and has been translated from the original French text. Published on 12th April 2016 through Atlantic Books, I finished reading this hardback book last week, and enjoyed every page.
The story starts on the island of Mauritius in 1892, and we meet 8 year old Alexis L’Estrang and his family. The boy lives an idyllic life playing in the sea, looking at the stars and dreaming. His father is a real dreamer and has been obsessed with the stories of a Corsair (pirate) and his hidden treasure. A hurricane will rip the family apart as their home and livelihood are left in tatters and they need to move away from the sea, and away from their dreams. The father never quite recovers and when he dies Alexis feels the need to sail away from home, and unravel the dreams of his father and chase the treasure that has eluded them. Was the Corsair real, did the treasure really exist? If Alexis could find it, would it solve all of his problems?
He ends up on the island of Rodrigues, abandoning his mother and sister, and turning his back on civilised society. He lives on the beach spends every waking hour trying to solve the mystery of the Corsairs map. This book sees Alexis following his dreams, really at the expense of everything else. He meets a Malaf girl who teaches him to fish underwater and live like a native. You have to admire his dogged determination and the ease with which he leads a very simple life.
But paradise can’t last forever and World War One bring disaster to Alexis as he joins up and witnesses the horrors of the trenches first hand. Add a fierce hurricane which causes havoc across the island upon his return and his dreams of treasure hunting are buried forever.
He returns to Mauritius, could the treasure he has been searching for his whole life, actually have been at home all along?
The Prospector is a really lovely read, it flows well and keeps you captivated. It’s peaceful, calm and rather sad in places. It’s different from my normal reading choices, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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disclosure: we were sent this item in exchange for an honest review