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Islands of Silence by Martin Booth

Alec Marquand has been sitting in a home for the mentally ill for a long time refusing to speak or communicate in any way. Now an old man nearing death, he narrates his story to the reader to explain why he's made this decision. Just out of college as a young man, he was working as an archaeologist in the Scottish Highlands when he becomes intrigued by an island called Eilean Tosdach -- the Island of Silence. Although the locals try to dissuade him from visiting the island, he does and is captivated by a beautiful, young and primitive woman who can only speak in grunts and growls. He is pulled away by World War I and thrust into the horrors of battle at Gallipoli. Martin Booth weaves the story back and forth across time in Alec's active mind so that we come to understand his decision to be mute. The Denver Post calls Islands of Silence "a tale that takes a while to come together but ends up strangely compelling and, ultimately, illuminating."
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