THE CURIOSITY CABINET
‘The island reminds her of those magic painting books. The shop here used to sell them. You would dip your brush in water and pale, clear colours would emerge from the page, as this green and blue landscape is emerging from the mist.’
‘She saw before her a small but strongly built man, in his thirties perhaps, wearing highland dress, bare legs showing beneath the big blue plaid. He reminded her of the highlanders she had seen on the streets of Edinburgh where sometimes, dressed in their outlandish clothes, they were perceived as crude figures of fun and sometimes, bristling with weaponry and with the drink taken, as dangerous incomers. Manus was no figure of fun although she could see that he might be dangerous, a better friend than an enemy, perhaps.’
When Alys revisits the beautiful Hebridean island of Garve after an absence of twenty five years, she is captivated by the embroidered casket on display in her hotel. She discovers that it belongs to Donal, her childhood playmate, and soon they resume their old friendship. Interwoven with the story of their growing love, is the darker tale of Henrietta Dalrymple, kidnapped by the formidable Manus McNeill and held on Garve against her will. With three hundred years separating them, the women are linked by the cabinet and its contents, by the tug of motherhood and by the magic of the island itself. But Garve has its secrets, past and present. Donal must learn to trust Alys enough to confide in her and, like Henrietta before her, Alys must earn the right to belong.
What people have said about this book:
‘Heartwarming, realistic and page turning’ – Lorraine Kelly.
‘A powerful story about love and obligation… a persuasive novel, very well written’ - John Burnside.
‘A stunning Hebridean setting’ – the Sunday Herald.
The Curiosity Cabinet was one of three novels shortlisted for the prestigious 2005 Dundee Book Prize. It was published in the same year by Polygon but has been out of print for some time. This edition is available only on Kindle. The new cover design is by distinguished Scottish textile artist Alison Bell, who interpreted her own response to the book as follows: ‘The narrative works on many layers of memory and time, some hazy, some forgotten, but the island’s presence is constant, as a refuge and a place to grow and start afresh. I wanted the colours to be soft, subtle, muted, with hints of turquoise, like the sea up there. It is a gentle book which drifts into the mind’s eye as each chapter unfolds.’
Catherine Czerkawska is an award winning author of historical novels, short stories and many plays for the stage and for BBC Radio 4. When not writing, she also finds time to collect and deal in antique and vintage textiles, especially those with a Scottish or Irish provenance. She's fascinated by costume history and often finds that antique textiles: embroideries, lace, silks and satins, find their way into her fiction.