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Red Island House

A Novel

Read by Bahni Turpin

From National Book Award–nominated writer Andrea Lee comes a gorgeously evocative epic about love, clashing cultures, and identity, set in the tropical African island nation of Madagascar.

“People do mysterious things when they think they’ve found paradise,” reflects Shay, the heroine of Red Island House. When Shay, a Black American professor who’s always had an adventurous streak, marries Senna, an Italian businessman, she doesn’t imagine that her life’s greatest adventure will carry her far beyond their home in Milan to an idyllic stretch of beach in Madagascar, where Senna builds a flamboyant vacation villa. Before she knows it, Shay has become the somewhat reluctant mistress of a sprawling household, caught between her privileged American upbringing and her connection to the continent of her ancestors.

At first, she’s content to be an observer of the passionate affairs and fierce rivalries around her, but over twenty tumultuous years of marriage, as she and Senna raise children and establish their own rituals at the house, Shay finds herself drawn ever deeper into a place where a blend of magic, sexual intrigue, and transgression forms a modern-day parable of colonial conquest. Soon the collision of cultures comes right to Shay’s door, forcing her to make a life-altering decision that will change her and Senna’s lives forever.

A captivating, powerful, and profoundly moving novel about marriage and loyalty, identity and freedom, Red Island House showcases an extraordinary literary voice and an extravagantly lush, enchanted world.

Photograph by Alexandra Muse Fallows

Andrea Lee is the author of four books, including the National Book Award–nominated memoir Russian Journal, the novels Lost Hearts in Italy and Sarah Phillips, and the story collection Interesting Women. A former staff writer for The New Yorker, she has written for The New York Times MagazineVogue, W, and The New York Times Book Review. Born in Philadelphia, she received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Harvard University and now lives in Italy. The highly anticipated Red Island House will be her first novel to be published in fifteen years.

More books from this reader: Bahni Turpin