“Families are strange and wonderful organisms. Bound by blood, they embody relationships which can be at once loving and nurturing, fragile and combustible. Every family is different, each one unique – but all confront difficulties and dramas common to the human condition.”
In this epic saga written from the sublime peace of his Aegean archipelago, Kit Chapman unravels the turbulent story of his family. It is a tale of fortunes won and lost, of bitter rivalries, death and suicide, moral angst, and the consuming love affair of his parents, Etty and Peter.
Born into a long line of glamorous European hoteliers, Kit stumbles upon the truth, and potential scandal, surrounding the unexpected death of his famous grandfather, Henry Prüger – a black secret the family has covered up for nearly eighty years. The shock of Prüger’s death in 1929 affected his three teenage sons for the rest of their lives. And for Peter, the youngest, the trauma was assuaged only by his passionate romance and marriage to Etty in Greece after the war.
In the 1950s, the young family – Peter, Etty, Kit and Gerald, settled into life at Taunton’s Castle Hotel. But by the Seventies, the pressures of a controlling and egocentric mother drove her two grown-up children to break free. For ten dark years, Gerald struggled with his homosexuality before coming out – an announcement which devastated his father. And when Kit and his wife, Louise, joined the business, their bitter conflict with Etty and the tragedy of Gerald’s death by AIDS eventually split the family and brought the Castle to the brink of bankruptcy.
My Archipelago is a powerful and extraordinary story. For Kit Chapman it is also a journey of reconciliation – an attempt to understand, forgive and heal the scars left by his battles with his parents.