Genie and Paul by Natasha Soobramanien

Genie and PaulThis is an unusual and unique first novel, about love, that of a sister for her (half) brother, and of her brother’s love for his homeland of Mauritius. The story begins on the night that Tropical Cyclone Kalunde battered the islands in the Indian Ocean, and when Genie woke up in hospital in London, having lost a night of her life, and her brother.

The story is told in three sections: Genie’s story, her search for her beloved brother; Paul’s story, his search for somewhere he finally feels at home; and the small final section entitled Genie and Paul, where they arrive together on the tiny island of Rodrigues, sister island of Mauritius. The first two sections flit about in time, jumping backwards and forwards as a picture is built up of their lives and the events that have shaped them, and the final section brings them together as it draws the reader to its poignant ending.

The writing is superb, very descriptive with a keen sense of place and this was probably my favourite aspect of the novel. Her characters are beautifully crafted and vividly imagined. At times I found some of the storyline slightly slow, but this is a novel that demands attention and care in reading, not least for the unique punctuation style. It’s a unique book which would appeal to those who love novels about souls searching and a sense of displacement.


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