The Common Bond.
The story follows Morgan's return to Hawaii 10 years after meeting Victoria, the love of his life who has since died. Haunted by grief he takes up fishing again in an effort to escape the sense of guilt he feels by her suicide. The story moves with ease between the present and the past describing the beginnings of their encounter involving the betrayal of Tioni, a local guy that Victoria was seeing when she first meets Morgan, a ‘haelo’, white person. Tioni and Morgan had been friends since childhood and worked together on a tourist boat of which Morgan was Captain. The love between Morgan and Victoria shatters more than friendship by unearthing historical tensions and racial prejudice.
Told through a series of flashbacks the reader becomes privy to the vulnerable fragile and ultimately tragic development of Victoria, in contrast to the steady down to earth character presented in Morgan before he spirals towards uncontrollable meltdown. The central themes of love vs. the human condition are handled by Merritt with compassion and empathy; injecting the reader with same raw emotion the two main characters experience both individually and in their relationship with each other.
I did wonder how well the story would hold up with the reader already in possession of the outcome that Victoria is no longer alive, but the conclusion is satisfying and the language rich and evocative capturing the truth about relationships as we travel with Morgan into despair until hope is offered through the unlikely porthole of a local family.
The Common Bond is not a book I would instinctively have chosen to read, but on completion felt rewarded and gratified by the experience. Possessed by Shadows, written by the same author, is winging it's way to my door as we speak and I look forward with anticipation to it's arrival.