Strangers at the Port

Lauren Aimee Curtis

Strangers at the Port
Orion Publishing Co
United Kingdom
30 April 2024

Strangers at the Port

Lauren Aimee Curtis

Giulia is ten. She lives on the greenest island in a volcanic archipelago. She has never left. Her best friend, apart from her older sister Giovanna, is a donkey. Giulia and Giovanna's days on the island are shaped by ritual, community, superstition and isolation.

Until the men arrive. And a foreign yacht anchors at the port. And the vines begin to fail. And everything changes.

From the author of Dolores, Strangers at the Port is an exquisite, enchanted novel about myth and memory, suspicion and dislocation, emigrants and explorers.


On a fictional Aeolian island in a volcanic archipelago, a community thrives off the bountiful vineyards that produce the sweetest wines in all the Mediterranean. Their ordinary lives are shaped by ritual and religion, and they are reminded of their freedom by the prisoners that are kept hidden nearby. Every woman follows the men’s rules, and every man follows the shipmaster. Until the day the vines start rotting. A foreign yacht arrives at the port. A prisoner goes missing. And everything falls apart.

The island of S is one of mystery, but the three main characters, from whose perspectives the story is told, don’t offer many clues.

Giulia, a 10-year-old girl, is obedient and faithful yet curious about the world around her nonetheless. It’s because of her youth that no one expects her to see so many things that are not meant to be seen; the naked man that runs through their village in the middle of the night, nor the baker’s daughter who is groped by a group of men, nor her mother entangled with the shipmaster in the woods even though she should be mourning the loss of Giulia’s father.

An adventurous and scholarly traveller who calls himself the Archduke sets afoot the island with his men, yearning for the love he left back home but deeply intrigued by the strange people he has found.

And Giovanna, Giulia’s older sister, recounts the moment that everyone leaves the island, never to return again.

Loosely based on the phylloxera pest that destroyed many of the vineyards in the Aeolian islands at the end of the 19th century, Lauren Aimee Curtis has woven a seaside Gothic tale teeming with superstition and mistrust, making us question if the bonds within a community are still to be relied upon when disaster arrives.

This item is in-stock at 6 shops and will ship in 3-4 days

Our stock data is updated periodically, and availability may change throughout the day for in-demand items. Please call the relevant shop for the most current stock information. Prices are subject to change without notice.

Sign in or become a Readings Member to add this title to a wishlist.