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The Tenth Island: Finding Joy, Beauty, and Unexpected Love in the Azores

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From a Pulitzer Prize–winning writer comes an exuberant memoir of personal loss and longing, and finding connection on the remote Azorean islands of the Atlantic Ocean. Reporter Diana Marcum is in crisis. A long-buried personal sadness is enfolding her—and her career is stalled—when she stumbles upon an unusual group of immigrants living in rural California. She follows the From a Pulitzer Prize–winning writer comes an exuberant memoir of personal loss and longing, and finding connection on the remote Azorean islands of the Atlantic Ocean. Reporter Diana Marcum is in crisis. A long-buried personal sadness is enfolding her—and her career is stalled—when she stumbles upon an unusual group of immigrants living in rural California. She follows them on their annual return to the remote Azorean islands in the Atlantic Ocean, where bulls run down village streets, volcanoes are active, and the people celebrate festas to ease their saudade, a longing so deep that the Portuguese word for it can’t be fully translated. Years later, California is in a terrible drought, the wildfires seem to never end, and Diana finds herself still dreaming of those islands and the chuva—a rain so soft you don’t notice when it begins or ends. With her troublesome Labrador retriever, Murphy, in tow, Diana returns to the islands of her dreams only to discover that there are still things she longs for—and one of them may be a most unexpected love.


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From a Pulitzer Prize–winning writer comes an exuberant memoir of personal loss and longing, and finding connection on the remote Azorean islands of the Atlantic Ocean. Reporter Diana Marcum is in crisis. A long-buried personal sadness is enfolding her—and her career is stalled—when she stumbles upon an unusual group of immigrants living in rural California. She follows the From a Pulitzer Prize–winning writer comes an exuberant memoir of personal loss and longing, and finding connection on the remote Azorean islands of the Atlantic Ocean. Reporter Diana Marcum is in crisis. A long-buried personal sadness is enfolding her—and her career is stalled—when she stumbles upon an unusual group of immigrants living in rural California. She follows them on their annual return to the remote Azorean islands in the Atlantic Ocean, where bulls run down village streets, volcanoes are active, and the people celebrate festas to ease their saudade, a longing so deep that the Portuguese word for it can’t be fully translated. Years later, California is in a terrible drought, the wildfires seem to never end, and Diana finds herself still dreaming of those islands and the chuva—a rain so soft you don’t notice when it begins or ends. With her troublesome Labrador retriever, Murphy, in tow, Diana returns to the islands of her dreams only to discover that there are still things she longs for—and one of them may be a most unexpected love.

30 review for The Tenth Island: Finding Joy, Beauty, and Unexpected Love in the Azores

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ieva

    Rather odd None of the other Kindle first books for July appealed, so I defaulted to what I thought would be a charming travelogue about the Azores. This book did not turn out be what I had expected. I think I learned more about California than the Azores. I was reminded of how different the USA is to the UK and that we are divided by a common language. The narrative was rather introspective and very autobiographical and I had trouble being into the book because I kept wondering why I should be Rather odd None of the other Kindle first books for July appealed, so I defaulted to what I thought would be a charming travelogue about the Azores. This book did not turn out be what I had expected. I think I learned more about California than the Azores. I was reminded of how different the USA is to the UK and that we are divided by a common language. The narrative was rather introspective and very autobiographical and I had trouble being into the book because I kept wondering why I should be interested in this woman I don't know and her friendships and relationships. Somehow I kept going, thinking the story would become clearer with time, but even by the end part of me wonders why it was written and why I read it. the other parts found it quite intriguing and with the additional help of Google and Wikipedia, I learned new things about both the people of the Azores and of California.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Francesca

    I really wanted to like this one - it started out strong and the culture and history of the Azores was very interesting. I just could not get on board with Marcum's writing style - the jumping back and forth in narrative was really confusing and I found myself skimming the pages and then just didn't finish it. The Azores are a very compelling topic but I think a more linear writing style may have worked better?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Goth Gone Grey

    I enjoy biographies and learning about other places - traveling without ever leaving my couch. This semi-fiction, semi-autobiographical book seemed a great choice for this month's First Reads selection. The book is filled with her experiences, but more with her longing for more. More peace, more romance, more beauty, more.. Saudade. The indescribable longing for something that you're not sure of, whether it be happy or sad, that's just out of reach with your fingers, and slipped away from your to I enjoy biographies and learning about other places - traveling without ever leaving my couch. This semi-fiction, semi-autobiographical book seemed a great choice for this month's First Reads selection. The book is filled with her experiences, but more with her longing for more. More peace, more romance, more beauty, more.. Saudade. The indescribable longing for something that you're not sure of, whether it be happy or sad, that's just out of reach with your fingers, and slipped away from your tongue so it can't even be described. The author shares stories of her life in California and Azorean Islands, as well as her career as a news writer. She leaps headlong into stories, with hiking boots and fire gear at the ready during droughts and fires, a sad normalcy in California for part of her career. Worn from experiencing this, she headed back to the Azorean Islands, where life is slower, and simpler... Except while bulls are charging at you, narrowly held by handlers with ropes. Between and during the narrative, she adds in theories that she believes to be true. I liked the first, but they soon grew a little tiring, distracting from the narrative and self-serving. An example: "The Importance of Dawdling Theory: This theory holds that there is nothing more valuable than time to waste. The most interesting things are the ones tucked away in the empty spaces to be discovered when dawdling, loitering, lying in bed. It's the only part of the universe you can truly call your own." Overall, the book is filled with the author's passion, but the factual, blunt manner is sometimes tinged with a hint of despair that makes it a less enjoyable read than I'd like. She touches on her romances, and issues thereof, in a manner which sings for sympathy, but I couldn't generate it. I wish her well, of course, but some of this portion could have been skipped with no impact to the tale.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mandy

    This was neither a travelogue, nor a history book, nor a "lost my shit and found love in a foreign land" book. And I'm good with that. I was initially concerned that I was reading another version of Eat Pray Love (based on the notes on Amazon) but found that the author was less a lost soul and more of a searching one. The Azores sound so beautiful and welcoming, and the format of each chapter almost as a short story was very effective. The Murphy stories in particular were very entertaining. This This was neither a travelogue, nor a history book, nor a "lost my shit and found love in a foreign land" book. And I'm good with that. I was initially concerned that I was reading another version of Eat Pray Love (based on the notes on Amazon) but found that the author was less a lost soul and more of a searching one. The Azores sound so beautiful and welcoming, and the format of each chapter almost as a short story was very effective. The Murphy stories in particular were very entertaining. This book was I think a great deal about community and how she could appreciate it while still being something of an outsider. The theme of drought was both disturbing and effective. The Azores were both a verdant change of scenery (with looming active volcanos) but also a cure for an arid soul.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Calzean

    The author is a journalist, she is in a slump with nothing going right - no permanent job, no love life and no fulfilment. Through her work she meets some of the many emigrants from the Azores who make an annual pilgrimage back to their homes. She decides to visit this set of islands firstly for a couple of weeks, then a few months and years later for a year. Not surprising she finds happiness in the simple, community-based life style. She writes well, always with the respect of a visitor who is The author is a journalist, she is in a slump with nothing going right - no permanent job, no love life and no fulfilment. Through her work she meets some of the many emigrants from the Azores who make an annual pilgrimage back to their homes. She decides to visit this set of islands firstly for a couple of weeks, then a few months and years later for a year. Not surprising she finds happiness in the simple, community-based life style. She writes well, always with the respect of a visitor who is grateful for the chance to live in such a welcoming, laid-back and fun-loving people.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Wendy Orford

    Sorry but I did not enjoy this book. I continued reading it because I thought something interesting may happen to Diana on her Azores adventure but it didn't. I found the book rather rambling and difficult to keep up with the different people mentioned. Having said all of that and as a result of reading this book I am planning to visit the Azores next year for a holiday so it cant have been all bad.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    I wanted to like this book so much more than I did. The book overall is in chronological order (I think), but wow do the stories bounce around within certain time periods. It is very inconsistent and annoying with peppering of history about the islands/people/California to the point you just wonder, how is this relevant to what is going on? And I'm someone who appreciates historical context, but I got to the point, especially towards the end of the book, where my eyes would just glaze over when I wanted to like this book so much more than I did. The book overall is in chronological order (I think), but wow do the stories bounce around within certain time periods. It is very inconsistent and annoying with peppering of history about the islands/people/California to the point you just wonder, how is this relevant to what is going on? And I'm someone who appreciates historical context, but I got to the point, especially towards the end of the book, where my eyes would just glaze over when Marcum went into one of the long history lessons. I started skipping over all of it so I could just finish the book. For this being a personal account of her own experiences, the story felt a bit distanced. There's no real emotion or much POV thought - like the author is telling a friends detailed account of her experiences, but not her own. Also, if you're committed to reading this one, get a notepad to write down every person's name & how Diana met them because there are a lot, and I would forget who was who (or who was married to who) even reading the book consistently every night. I kept going back and forth on whether to give this book 2 or 3 stars, but because I really only liked small bits of it - not the entire thing so 2 stars it is. One of my lowest rated books. Which is sad because the idea and experiences behind this book deserve more than that, but in my opinion, it was just so poorly executed. I'm feeling deadline pressure or something going on here. The beginning of the book is so much better than later on - I even marked several quotes that really resonated with me (and thats not something I do often). Overall, it could've been much better storytelling - it's almost not worth the read because it wasn't done well.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Karen M

    In the Top Five of My Favorite Books Ever! I am a voracious reader and generally choose detective/sleuth, action-packed adventure stories but, agreeing with other reviewers of this book, it was the only one of the July free reads that remotely appealed to me, perhaps because of my love of travel and exploration of new places. I found this book relaxing and thought-provoking. Ms Markum has an extraordinary way of not only describing the sights and smells of the Azorean Islands, but she is also very In the Top Five of My Favorite Books Ever! I am a voracious reader and generally choose detective/sleuth, action-packed adventure stories but, agreeing with other reviewers of this book, it was the only one of the July free reads that remotely appealed to me, perhaps because of my love of travel and exploration of new places. I found this book relaxing and thought-provoking. Ms Markum has an extraordinary way of not only describing the sights and smells of the Azorean Islands, but she is also very deft at revealing inner thoughts and truths. The Portuguese word 'saudade' for an indescribable longing resonated with me. I've never bookmarked or highlighted more passages in any other books. I'm even considering buying the tangible, physical copy of this book to keep in my otherwise limited collection of great reads. A must for those who are armchair travelers and enjoy living virtually through other's experiences!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist from California, Marcum let go of everything to go alone to the Azores Islands off the coast of Portugal to explore the California-Azores connection. Although not Azorean herself, she felt a special connection on her first visit and took a year-long leave of absence from her job at the Los Angeles Times to spend more time in the Azores, mostly on the island of Terceira. She lived in houses rented or loaned to her and spent her days exploring. She made friends, A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist from California, Marcum let go of everything to go alone to the Azores Islands off the coast of Portugal to explore the California-Azores connection. Although not Azorean herself, she felt a special connection on her first visit and took a year-long leave of absence from her job at the Los Angeles Times to spend more time in the Azores, mostly on the island of Terceira. She lived in houses rented or loaned to her and spent her days exploring. She made friends, took off with near-strangers on hikes and car trips, and became part of the community, all without speaking more than a few words of Portuguese. It’s Eat Pray Love Portuguese style. My ancestors are Azorean, and I have been to the islands, so I loved reading about them. When she describes the street bullfights or the lava pools, I’m right back there. Marcum, now back at the LA Times, is a wonderful writer, her style informative yet easy.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Shayna

    I rarely give 5-star reviews, but this beautiful—and beautifully written—memoir most definitely deserves one. Kudos to journalist Diana Marcum for combining the depth and breadth of excellent reporting with the singsongy lyricism of a veteran novelist. I enjoyed every word and have added the Azores to my travel bucket list.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ellen Trautner

    Sort of a travel book, sort of memoirs, sort of educational about Azorean immigrants and the California drought. I liked it! I feel like I learned a lot, both about California and the Azores and the people who are kind of caught in between. Marcum met some Azoran dairy farmers in California just doing some random local newspaper article. Somehow she for invited to the Azores for a few weeks and enjoyed it. She ended up going back for an entire summer a few years later. A few years after that, af Sort of a travel book, sort of memoirs, sort of educational about Azorean immigrants and the California drought. I liked it! I feel like I learned a lot, both about California and the Azores and the people who are kind of caught in between. Marcum met some Azoran dairy farmers in California just doing some random local newspaper article. Somehow she for invited to the Azores for a few weeks and enjoyed it. She ended up going back for an entire summer a few years later. A few years after that, after winning her Pulitzer (for writing about the California drought and profiling local farmers it was affecting, including Azorean farmers) she used her prize money and went back for a year. This book chronicles her life and career throughout that timeframe, but also how modern society was coming to the Azores. The Azores are a group of 9 islands. After some volcanic eruptions in the 50s I think, lots of people started emigrating. Many went to California and became dairy farmers. Every summer, many of them made a pilgrimage back to the islands. It was interesting to read about how the year round residents and summer pilgrims interacted and viewed each other. This was a good read about a part of the world and culture I knew little about.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Booknblues

    What a fun book! Reading The Tenth Island: Finding Joy, Beauty, and Unexpected Love in the Azores by Diana Marcum , I longed to visit the Azores, she made them sound so appealing. I couldn't help but google images from the islands and they are as beautiful as she described. Marcum is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who specializes in human interest stories. She is extremely sociable and makes her subjects feel at ease and is able to elicit much information from them. In her book she tells so What a fun book! Reading The Tenth Island: Finding Joy, Beauty, and Unexpected Love in the Azores by Diana Marcum , I longed to visit the Azores, she made them sound so appealing. I couldn't help but google images from the islands and they are as beautiful as she described. Marcum is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who specializes in human interest stories. She is extremely sociable and makes her subjects feel at ease and is able to elicit much information from them. In her book she tells so many interesting vignettes about the people of the Azores, that the reader feels as if she wants to move there and become part of the community. The Azores actually have 9 islands, but the 10th one is all the people from the Azorean diaspora who live around the US and Canada. There are more people of Azores descent in the US than currently live in the Azores. The Central Valley in California has a large population which is how Marcum first became interested as she was a journalist for the Fresno Bee at the time. She says: "The islands once exported oranges to England, but the Azores’ main export has always been its people. About a million people born in the Azores and their descendants live in North America—four times more than the nine islands’ population. During the latest wave of mass migration, between 1958 and 1980, more than one-third of the Azores’ population left, running from a volcano’s eruption, poverty, and a Portuguese dictator. Many of these people came from the island of Terceira (pronounced “ter-sey-rah”) and settled in California’s rural Central Valley, cows being the common denominator. In both places, Azoreans owned and worked on dairies. The Tenth Island is a memoir as well as a travel book and I found it to be an entertaining one. Diana Marcum is somebody I would be happy to have as a friend and I felt as if she was one reading the book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Saudade As a collector of words, saudade, loosely and inadequately translated to heartfelt longing, spoke to my soul, as did this entire novel. A newspaper reporter explores the lives and stories of Portuguese emigrants and immigrants between the Azores islands and Central Valley, California. Told with a mixture of wistful saudade, humor and descriptive personal experiences, Marcum allows you to travel vicariously to these beautiful islands. I've added a new destination to the top of my bucket li Saudade As a collector of words, saudade, loosely and inadequately translated to heartfelt longing, spoke to my soul, as did this entire novel. A newspaper reporter explores the lives and stories of Portuguese emigrants and immigrants between the Azores islands and Central Valley, California. Told with a mixture of wistful saudade, humor and descriptive personal experiences, Marcum allows you to travel vicariously to these beautiful islands. I've added a new destination to the top of my bucket list.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Carla

    Being the child of immigrants is a strange experience to navigate. I always feel equal parts American and Portuguese, but also not really fully one or the other. To my Portuguese family, I will always be the American cousin, albeit one with a decent grasp of Portuguese and a passable accent. To my American friends, I am always a bit of an other, not fully American, but not really all that foreign either. I am not really a minority as people think of the term – being of European descent and not l Being the child of immigrants is a strange experience to navigate. I always feel equal parts American and Portuguese, but also not really fully one or the other. To my Portuguese family, I will always be the American cousin, albeit one with a decent grasp of Portuguese and a passable accent. To my American friends, I am always a bit of an other, not fully American, but not really all that foreign either. I am not really a minority as people think of the term – being of European descent and not looking “foreign”, whatever that means, in America, I am treated like any other white woman, for better or worse. So while I am as liberal leaning and “woke” as I can possibly be, I don’t think I have ever really felt like my culture was being scrutinized or analyzed until I read this book. There is a part of me that is excited that an American has shown such love and admiration for the place that I consider home, even though I have never lived there. Usually, I have to explain to people that no, Portugal is not a state in Spain, but an independent country. And that no, the Azores are not in the Caribbean, that’s Puerto Rico, it’s a collection of islands smack dab in the middle of the Atlantic. So the fact that someone not only knows what the Azores is but also spent so much time getting to know it, is thrilling to me. But. There is always a but. There were times reading this book when Marcum was explaining some aspect of Portuguese culture, that I just wanted to scream “Don’t you dare explain my culture to me!” I have never really felt that way before, so it was jarring to feel like someone was, in a way, overriding what I know about the island where my family lives with their own reality. This book is Marcum’s truth though. And I can’t begrudge her that. Even when parts of her story feel a little condescending, like the people that live on Terceira, were just adorable background actors to her personal story. The sweeping generalizations of how Portuguese people are, what they do, how they think and feel, especially Portuguese American’s was a little hard to swallow since I know that what she is describing may be true for some, but not all. I want people to read this book. I want them to be inspired to learn about Portugal. To visit the islands. But I also want people to understand that no matter how much Marcum loves the country and its people, this book is her story, not theirs.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Michele Amedee

    This was a very slow memoir. I did enjoy the story, but I wouldn’t call it a page turner. The author is a Pulitzer Prize winner, so yes, she can write. She was a journalist in California. While doing research for an article about the many people who migrated to California from the Azores, she decided she needs to go there to understand it better. After she comes back to CA, she is always thinking about the Azores and when/how can she get back there. She does go back for an extended period of tim This was a very slow memoir. I did enjoy the story, but I wouldn’t call it a page turner. The author is a Pulitzer Prize winner, so yes, she can write. She was a journalist in California. While doing research for an article about the many people who migrated to California from the Azores, she decided she needs to go there to understand it better. After she comes back to CA, she is always thinking about the Azores and when/how can she get back there. She does go back for an extended period of time. I’m actually unclear whether or not she is still there. Lol. What attracted me to the book was just the fact that it’s about the Azores. It’s one of my dream destinations. There were places she talks about in the book that made me stop and go research and add to my mental list of things I want to see if I ever get to go. If the names she used for the residents were real, then I will know all the people, too. ☺️

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dorie

    The Tenth Island: Finding Joy, Beauty and Unexpected Love in the Azores 🍒🍒🍒🍒 By Diana Mercum 2018 Little A Books Diana Marcums life changes when she discovers a group of immigrants from the Azorean Islands living in the Central Valley of California. They migrated to North America fleeing a Portuguese dictator and a massive volcanic eruption, between 1950 and 1980. Her energy and fascination can be felt throughout her travels to the 9 Islands and learning of their formation, cultures, lifestyles and p The Tenth Island: Finding Joy, Beauty and Unexpected Love in the Azores 🍒🍒🍒🍒 By Diana Mercum 2018 Little A Books Diana Marcums life changes when she discovers a group of immigrants from the Azorean Islands living in the Central Valley of California. They migrated to North America fleeing a Portuguese dictator and a massive volcanic eruption, between 1950 and 1980. Her energy and fascination can be felt throughout her travels to the 9 Islands and learning of their formation, cultures, lifestyles and people. She learns of a culture that makes her question her own....a land she never knew existed and a land she can not forget. " The Tenth Island is what you carry inside you. Its what's left when everything falls away. Those of us who live between worlds just know the Tenth Island better. No matter where I have lived--I have never left my Island. " She never forgot these words. Captivating and Recommended!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Cat Hall

    This is a beautiful, moving love story between a woman and a string of islands. It speaks to the part of my heart that longs to just go. It reminds me that I am my only obstacle. This book is a must read for those with this internal calling. Enjoy the journey!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mary L.

    This was a book of memories. Some were humdrum, some extremely interesting, some amusing. No plot to speak of but you kept coming back for the next great turn of phrase or piece of wisdom uttered by one of the characters in the book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tonya

    I once lived in the Acores. When I say the cover of this book I knew where the picture was taken. I lived there. I was a Military wife at Lakes Field. I too fell in love with this mystical place. The people are amazing. I spent 2 years there (December 1992-Feb-1995). An adventure I will hold in my heart forever. Your book brought back so many memories, and yes once you have been chased by a bull in the streets,you never forget it. I lived in Bel Jarden. Then a year later move on base. I still use I once lived in the Acores. When I say the cover of this book I knew where the picture was taken. I lived there. I was a Military wife at Lakes Field. I too fell in love with this mystical place. The people are amazing. I spent 2 years there (December 1992-Feb-1995). An adventure I will hold in my heart forever. Your book brought back so many memories, and yes once you have been chased by a bull in the streets,you never forget it. I lived in Bel Jarden. Then a year later move on base. I still use my Alcatra pots, and cherish my memories of life on the Island. My children often talk of the friends they made and miss. I love your book. Thanks for the reminder of some of my favorite life experiences.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Deborah

    Wonderful read. This book is a joy to read. Several times I caught myself laughing out loud. It’s a interesting story about an island culture and the people that live there: Their quirks and customs, and their stories.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Heather Kerbow Weikum

    I really enjoyed this book. It taught me about an area of the world I knew nothing about, so much so that I've added it to my "travel list". At times, some of her stories seemed to drag out but otherwise, no complaints!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ann-Marie

    This is a well written book that makes me homesick for a place I have never been, and miss people I don't know.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dlmrose

    3.5

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Kindle First Reads - July 2018

  25. 5 out of 5

    Brian Stankich

    Humor, History and Heart I liked Diana's humor, historical research and her example of being able to connect with all kinds of people. Her writing style is playful and she obviously has a big heart.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kristi Kissick

    This was a good book and well written but it didn't have much of a plot.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    Loved it! Very engrossing, laugh-out-loud in places.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Positive for the Azorean community in California and the Azores section; did not care about author's personal life/romance/travelogue.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    Outstanding work This book is rich and delicious. It makes me want to visit the Azores like the brilliant author. I love how she writes with compassion for those around her and an excellent eye for detail.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jm

    This was a fast read. There is no plot, rather a voyage of self discovery, with vignettes from two geographically different, yet connected places and people. The experiences are from real life and are gentle, filled with humour, and are relatable. I found this to be an excelelnt summer read. As someone who has driven up and down the Central Valley, faced the drought, fire, and water crises in California, and also traveled across the Atlantic in search of Whatever, I enjoyed reading someone else' This was a fast read. There is no plot, rather a voyage of self discovery, with vignettes from two geographically different, yet connected places and people. The experiences are from real life and are gentle, filled with humour, and are relatable. I found this to be an excelelnt summer read. As someone who has driven up and down the Central Valley, faced the drought, fire, and water crises in California, and also traveled across the Atlantic in search of Whatever, I enjoyed reading someone else's version.

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