The Violins of Saint-Jacques : A Tale of the Antilles, Paperback Book

The Violins of Saint-Jacques : A Tale of the Antilles Paperback

4 out of 5 (3 ratings)


On an Aegean island one summer, an English traveller meets an enigmatic elderly Frenchwoman.

He is captivated by a painting she owns of a busy Caribbean port overlooked by a volcano and, in time, she shares the story of her youth there in the early twentieth century.

Set in the tropical luxury of the island of Saint-Jacques, hers is a tale of romantic intrigue and decadence amongst the descendents of slaves and a fading French aristocracy.

But on the night of the annual Mardi Gras ball, catastrophe overwhelms the island and the world she knew came to an abrupt and haunting end.

The Violins of Saint-Jacques captures the unforeseen drama of forces beyond human control. Originally published in 1953, it was immediately hailed as a rare and exotic sweep of colour across the drab monochrome of the post-war years, and it has lost nothing of its original flavour.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 144 pages, Illustrations, map
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division
  • Publication Date:
  • ISBN: 9780719555299



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Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by

A charming tale-within-a-tale that evokes a beautiful vanished world, as stylish and beguiling as the mysterious lady who relates it. Part adventure story, part romance, part life-story; and wholly delightful.

Review by

An odd and captivating little book. A tale told in retrospect of the last night of the Island of Saint-Jaques, the atmosphere is that of seeing another, fey world, in a mirror, just out of reach until the glass is shattered. Like Tam Lin and Thomas a Rhymer, we visit fairyland, are banished and left bereaved. Many obscure but beautiful words, and passages in Latin and French add to the mystery. I read it through without a dictionary as I was seduced by the world, but will reread it and learn more.

Review by

A magical-realist story set on a tropical island in the French Caribbean, dominated by a volcano.

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