I first read about Turtle Diary by Russell Hoban in the Globe and Mail as a rediscovered classic and was intrigued by how releasing turtles into their natural habitat after a life of captivity, could help the two major characters overcome their self-imposed isolation.
William is divorced and working in a book store while Neara writes children’s books in her lonely room. Their individual stories are told through diary entries and may seem mundane, though in actuality there are undercurrents of subtle changes taking place in their respective lives. For example when they are driving back from the Cornwall coast after releasing the turtles, they wonder what has really changed. As the novel continues it becomes clear that change doesn’t happen in big bursts, but in quiet ways as important shifts begin to take place in the lives of the characters.
Releasing the turtles is a metaphor for the release of William and Neara from a life of being loneliness after life-changing events.
This is a beautiful book, with quiet quirky characters. They live ordinary lives and are saved by their desire to work together for something outside of themselves.