Hippolyte’s Island, by Barbara Hodgson, is story about one unconventional man’s journey to find the lost Aurora islands. The story itself is an interesting and improbable one. Hippolyte Webb, a 36 year old traveler, decides he is going to sail to the Aurora islands located in the south Atlantic, alone, having taken only one sailing lesson. He miraculously makes it to the islands and falls victim to a strange phenomenon of disappearing land that sailors many years before had experienced as well. He returns home with crates of “specimens” and a logbook filled with useless and bizarre entries with hopes of publishing his book.
Hippolyte is an interesting and unique character. Despite his age, Hippolyte has the maturity level of a school boy, he has an unexplained fascination with names, he enjoys chaos and has only enough focus for the things he wants to do. There is no doubt that Hippolyte marches to the beat of his own drum. Many people might find his idiosyncrasies and naivety charming, however I find him to be narcissistic and selfish. His has an inability to create relationships, which I believe stems from his consistent effort to do what he wants. For example, he contacts his childhood friend Jeremy mainly because he needs an endorsement to travel because he has no money. Or when meeting with Marie for dinner to discuss his book, he brushes off her questions and attempts to learn about her personal life, which she clearly does not want to share. Additionally, in order to amuse himself, he takes it upon himself to rummage through her drawers, cabinets and bookshelf, disturbs the order of her home and then asks her if he can use her shower.
Although I do not particularly like Hippolyte, he does have some admirable qualities. I think his desire to do things his own way is something to be appreciated. There are few people in the world with the confidence to do what they want, without worrying about what others think.
Marie Simplon Hippolyte Webb