Synopsis:Rumblings from the long-dormant Montagne Pelée disrupt a young man’s courtship of a beautiful Creole maiden on the French West Indian island of Martinique, 1902. As birds drop dead from the sky and mysterious boiling mudflows surge down normally-trickling mountain brooks, Joseph and Louisa’s lives become intertwined with the conflicting agendas of an arrogant newspaper publisher, a lovable rum-swilling Catholic priest, the inexperienced newly-appointed governor, a generous but sanctimonious planter, a bewildered science professor, a tough naval captain, and an incarcerated felon.
The political question: Should St. Pierre, the largest and richest city in the Antilles, be evacuated? As lightning dances in Pelée’s towering ashcloud, the decisions of the island’s leaders are complicated by an upcoming election and confused by the cryptic squiggles on a seismograph, newly-arrived from California.
Committed to their individual responsibilities during the escalating mayhem, Joseph and Louisa become separated. When the holocaust strikes, each assumes the other is among the victims. Their reunion, however, does not end the story, for (with historical accuracy) the volcano explodes once more. This time, the lovers stick together.
The Last Days of St. Pierre is a true tale of political hubris, scientific ignorance, the pitfalls of blind faith, and the ability of love to triumph over adversity. The story is historically accurate, as are all of its characters except the central young lovers—who are composites of several actual survivors from the fringes of the 1902 catastrophe.
Again, this is based on my book of the same title (Rutgers University Press).
The changes here are mostly in the formatting (thank you, Bill Gates, for creating software that has a mind of its own). While I was at it, I also did some minor edits to the dialogue. The essential storyline remains the same.