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Original Essays | September 4, 2014

Edward E. Baptist: IMG The Two Bodies of The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism

My new book, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, is the story of two bodies. The first body was the new... Continue »
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John Dollar


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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Charlotte Lewes, a young Briton newly widowed by the Great War, departs for colonial Burma in 1917 to escape the ruins of her life. As a schoolteacher in Rangoon she is rejuvenated by the sensuous Oriental climate, and she meets John Dollar, a sailor who becomes her passionate love and whose ill-fated destiny inextricably binds her to him.

On a festive seafaring expedition, the tightly knit British community confronts disaster in the shape of an earthquake and ensuing tidal wave. Swept overboard, Charlotte, John Dollar, and eight young girls who are Charlotte's pupils awake on a remote island beach. As they struggle to stay alive, their dependence on John overwhelms him, and an atmosphere of menace and doom builds, culminating in shocking and riveting scenes of both death and survival.


"Charlotte Lewes, widowed by World War I, becomes a teacher in Burma to eight young girls, in an extraordinary scene swims with dolphins, and becomes a sailor's lover, John Dollar's. British colonial families make a holiday expedition to a distant island. Strange natural phenomena presage disaster. One of two becalmed sailing vessels is discovered to be a ghost ship, then an earthquake and tidal wave maroons Dollar, paralyzed from the waist down, Charlotte, and the eight girls. At first, Wiggins' children are mostly names and voices—so alike we find it difficult to tell them apart—then they take on misty shapes; we can see them move and follow them as they do things, eventually terrible things, but except for the Anglo-Indian girl, Menaka, called Monkey, who manages to retain her humanity, they never really come into complete focus. This may be a kind of blessing. Completely alive before us they would be unbearable. Comparisons with The Lord of the Flies are inevitable—girls instead of boys as island castaways, most of whom revert to the primitive in their natures. Golding himself called his story symbolic. Compared to John Dollar, it now seems more symbolic than real. John Dollar has a greater feeling of inevitability, yet Wiggins accomplishes this in language more dreamlike and poetic. In the long run her shocking adventure story may come to be considered the more powerful work." Reviewed by Andrew Witmer, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)

About the Author

Marianne Wiggins is the author of seven books of fiction including John Dollar and Evidence of Things Unseen. She has won an NEA grant, the Whiting Writers' Award, and the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, and she was a National Book Award finalist in fiction for Evidence of Things Unseen.

Product Details

Wiggins, Marianne
Simon & Schuster
Historical - General
General Fiction
General Fiction
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade Paperback
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8.25 x 5.31 in 7.385 oz

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Popular Fiction » Suspense

John Dollar Used Trade Paper
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Product details 224 pages Simon & Schuster - English 9780671039554 Reviews:
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