A novelization of the 1927 Wrigley Ocean Marathon Swim across the Catalina Channel as told through the eyes of a swimmer trapped in the shadow of the famous Gertrude “Trudy” Ederle.
It’s the mid-1920s and New York is shimmering with the vigour of a younger generation in headlong pursuit of greater freedoms and pleasures. Watching from the sidelines, nineteen-year-old Savanna “Savi” Mason struggles with the gravity of her perceived failures, finding release and security in the water. Savi believes that her swimming has the power to change her world. Just as it seems this notion has been shattered for good, she embarks on a journey to the Wrigley Ocean Marathon, a twenty-two-mile race from Catalina Island to Los Angeles. Inspired by true events, with vivid glimpses of Prohibition, class antagonism and the evolving attitudes of the flapper era, Sage Island is the story of a young woman, diving and surfacing.
Published by Brindle & Glass, an Imprint of Touchwood Editions. Several Print Runs. Nominated for the George Bugnet Award for Fiction and named one of Canada’s Top 10 Books to use sport metaphorically in literature (AU Press, 2018)
Think Marilyn Bell with bob, kohl-lined eyes, bee-stung lips and attitude to spare… Savi, on the verge of becoming one of life’s long-distance losers and obsessed with acing the chewing-gum-sponsored 22-mile open-water swim, hits the waves while Warwick hits fever-pitch prose rhythms effortlessly, gliding into near-poetry that alchemically takes readers along for the marathon stretch… [Sage Island] will leave readers both satisfied and wanting more, as all fine first novels ought to do… It’s a thoughtfully engrossing charmer worth the price of admission.
The pace is brisk, the plot commanding, the characters vivid and sympathetic, the philosophy never intrusive.
Sage Island weds seamless flapper-era detail with a mesmerizing story of athletic obsession. Savanna Mason's desperate underwater odyssey is an unforgettable, near-visceral reading experience.
I devoured [the book] in a few days… While some of the challenges [Savanna] faced were unfamiliar to me, her steely determination and blatant dismissal of the cynics in her life is something I not only identify with, but strive for.
There is an authenticity in the writing, a defining sense of experiential reality that grounds the story and yet carries with it a growing momentum.
Equipped with a broad swimming background, Warwick is able to stylishly execute a witty and much-needed realistic swim-based drama climaxed by the momentous open-water swimming race, the 1927 Wrigley Ocean Marathon. Like a first-time national qualifier who astonishingly strikes gold, Warwick’s literary skills have launched her shoulder-to-shoulder with veteran novelists while delivering a golden piece of history… I believe Sage Island will soar, whether the reader can dog-paddle or not.
…genuine characters…Warwick’s poetic use of words engulfs [the reader] from the beginning to the end of the novel.
...a fabulous book. The historical setting is fascinating--you really feel like you're there. This is a story of great determination and courage against all odds, [a story] of friendship [and even has] a romantic twist. Highly recommend it.
Anticipation of the race keeps Warwick’s reader turning pages, lured also by the mystery of what has driven Savi to the island alone, an unaccompanied female surrounded by strange supporters and not altogether friendly competition…the author’s seamless use of historical detail and sensory language immerse the reader into Savi’s world… we feel the chafing of wool, the sting of salt, the insulation of axle grease, the balm of aloe and zinc oxide. Most of all, we feel her want, and finally her release… Sage Island is less about winning than it is about striving, and the unexpected rewards of perseverance.
…an engaging blend of the historical contrasts of Prohibition and the flapper era with the always contemporary theme of personal achievement. Readers who take the plunge into this world of competition and coming-of-age will be rewarded.
Keep your eye on those small Canadian presses. They may lack the marketing budget of big leaguers like HarperCollins and Random House but each year they publish some of the best emerging writers anywhere. A case in point is Samantha Warwick and her debut novel Sage Island, released in September by Victoria’s Brindle & Glass. Set against the exciting backdrop of 1920s New York, Sage Island chronicles the coming of age of its young heroine Savanna Mason as she deals with relationships and personal flaws while seeking fame as one of the best competitive swimmers of her generation.
Warwick [is] a gifted novelist..
The discussion of marathon swimming becomes an assertion of the importance of following dreams that allow us to defy convention and to challenge society’s predetermined scripts… Sage Island is the story of an underdog overcoming adversity and winning, but the win is not the one we expect. Instead, we learn to redefine the very concept of victory – and the new definition is one that will appeal to ‘dreamers and desperados’ of every era.