Sardinian Silver

General Fiction

By A. Colin Wright

Publisher : iUniverse.

ABOUT A. Colin Wright

A. Colin Wright
A. Colin Wright was born and raised in the county of Essex, England. After serving as a linguist in the British Royal Air Force, Wright attended Cambridge University where he earned undergraduate and graduate degrees. In 1964, he was appointed a professor of Russian at Queen’s University More...


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Finding One’s Self on a Romantic Island That Time Forgot

Sardinian Silver


KINGSTON, ONTARIO – How many young people have dreamt of self and sexual discovery in a far off, exotic place? Arthur Fraser, the main character of Sardinian Silver (published by iUniverse) by A. Colin Wright, not only dreamt of it, he realized his dream. Recruited to represent a travel firm from his homeland of Great Britain, Arthur arrives in the resort town of Alghero on the Island of Sardinia in the Mediterranean Sea and is instantly bewitched. Based on his own time on Sardinia, Wright’s captivating and oftentimes hilarious novel follows the exploits of a young man trying to find love while assimilating to an archaically orthodox society.


Sardinian Silver opens with Arthur sailing across the Tyrrhenian Sea towards his new home. On his journey to Sardinia, Arthur meets a native Sardinian named Gavino. Eager to make a new friend, let alone a British one, Gavino strikes up a conversation with Arthur and quickly offers to show Arthur his island. Gavino is the first in a cavalcade of characters, serious, humorous and tragic, that help make Sardinian Silver the engaging recollection that it is.


Once settled into the Sardinian resort at which he is working, Arthur sets out on achieving the one thing he wants most; finding a Sardinian girlfriend. He knows that this will not be easy, as Gavino has already warned him. Sardinia in the 1960s was still very culturally undeveloped. Sardinia’s residents viewed mainland Italians and continentals (the British counted among them) as immoral and contaminated by modern society. Still, this does not dissuade Arthur from his task.


It was ten past nine. Quickly the girls had gone.

Parties like this were so promising, yet so empty. I recall another one, with Gavino and some of Marcella’s friends, where one girl enjoyed a few hidden caresses while we clutched together publicly, but reacted scornfully when I attempted to get her outside alone, and the others were quite shocked. Except for Marcella, who made fun of me. Hug and hold tightly in a dance, but be satisfied with this brief, despairing feel of another body, for it’s all you’re going to get unless you pay a prostitute for more: southern Italy in a nutshell. Yet Sardinia was a land of promise, which I loved even if it remained unfulfilled.


In the tradition of Brideshead Revisited and The Lost Girl, Sardinian Silver is a charming and witty novel of growth, loss and realization that is sure to delight even the most critical reader. 

How Sardinian Silver and other things came to be written. I went to Sardinia (from England, my home) in 1962, after seeing an ad for a teacher of English in a (dreadful) Berlitz school: I'd resigned from a job I didn't like after graduating from university in 1961. The first draft of the novel was written after my return from Sardinia: in 1962-3 I was again teaching English in a better school in Reggio Calabria, in the toe of Italy, and I used to sit writing in an outdoor cafe. With pen and paper of course—no word processors in those days! Before going to Sardinia, I had worked in hotels as a tourist representative during my university vacations in Scotland and Switzerland. I decided to use that experience, rather than teaching, in the novel. Although the places are real enough and some characters were suggested by people I knew, everything was fictionalized. Thus, although based on my own experience, the novel is not autobiography. In 1964 I was selected to go on the Anglo-Soviet exchange to Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) for a year. (I learned Russian during my national service in Britain in the Royal Air Force, 1956-58, and subsequently studied it with French and German as well at Cambridge University. I only learned Italian when I went to Sardinia.) I was still trying to type up my manuscript on the ship from London to Leningrad—but I had to mail it back to England from Helsinki, the last port before reaching the Soviet Union, because there was always the possibility that, with censorship there, custom officials would confiscate the manuscript. Subsequently, after coming to Canada to teach Russian at Queen's University, I continued work on it and other creative writing projects, attending various workshops at the University of New Brunswick and the University of Iowa. Later I joined a writers’ group in Kingston and had many of my writings critiqued by the others. My main work of course was academic, and I published many academic articles and a major book on the Russian writer, Mikhail Bulgakov. But I continued to write creatively, short stories (about 20 published in literary journals), novels and, more recently, plays. I have submitted these interminably to publishers and theatres without success, although some of the plays won competitions and were performed locally in the amateur theatre. In 2004 I returned to Sardinia for the first time, finding it vastly changed (as described in the appendix)—giving the book, I think, a certain historical value. Having tried for years to get the novel published, I finally did so through iUniverse in 2008: the only problem now being to market it amongst so many other novels published and available.

ForeWord Clarion Review, 2009                                                                         FICTION

Sardinian Silver

A. Colin Wright

iUniverse, 186 pages, Softcover $14.95, 978-0-595-48100-2

Four Stars (out of Five)


After an absence of forty-two years, languages professor A. Colin Wright returned for a visit to Sardinia. His nostalgic novel, Sardinian Silver, he says in its afterword, “evokes a Sardinia that no longer exists but which had a quality of its own that is worth remembering.” It was a quality he also found in the no longer extant brand of Sardinian Silver wine that was “like a fleeting memory of something beautiful.” His efforts to recapture the quality and memories of Sardinia, the wine, and his friends from the 1960s have resulted in a novel of superior literary merit.

Wright’s novel is a pastoral romance about a summer in the life of twenty-four-year-old Englishman Arthur Fraser, a tourist guide in Sardinia. It is skilfully and evocatively written, relying on the interactions between its characters as they travel, fall in and out of love, and indulge in occasional bacchanalian festivals. While there are no action-packed adventures, there is a well-developed sojourn to Orgosolo, an enclave of outlaws where Arthur and his friends feel, “as though we’re entering a forgotten civilization, peopled by ghosts of ancient warriors.” And when Arthur and his friend Gavino vie for the same girl, a kind of genteel jealousy arises, which suits the type of novel Wright has written. Otherwise, the novel relies upon Arthur and his several female acquaintances to add spice in some episodes and humour in others. Of particular note is Wright’s ability to elicit the morals and mores of 1960’s Sardinia, both through what happens on the island and in Rome, and by the attitudinal interplay between traditionalist Sards and visiting foreigners like Arthur and his transplanted English friends.

Wright’s characters spring to life, full blown. Angst-ridden Arthur unceasingly searches for love with all the wrong women until the right one arrives at the book’s conclusion. His girlfriends contrast the morality of the day and the place with their boldness and outspokenness. The men, on the other hand, either appear grateful to follow in the wake of the women or to participate in surreptitious affairs, like the “nauseating man with the moustache and the nasty smile” inquiring of Arthur about the availability of a servant girl for “other things.”

In the end, as Arthur reminisces years later with his wife about Sardinia and “all the people we knew there,” he concludes, “An odd bunch, weren’t they?” But odd or not, they are well worth knowing.

M. Wayne Cunningham


Chicago Center for Literature and Photography, March 25th, 2009

Sardinian Silver

By A. Colin Wright, 
iUniverse / ISBN: 978-0-595-48100-2

The more these days that I'm getting to read the growing amount of self-published and basement-press books out there, the more I'm starting to realize that we are right on the cusp of a new golden age of sorts for literature; that we are right at the start of a hundred million retired baby boomers writing a hundred million pretty decent memoirs and semi-autobiographical novels, most of which will never see much distribution beyond a various few websites and print-on-demand outfits. It's easy to forget in our contemporary times, after all, but the unusually large population that makes up my parents' generation (born in the middle-class boom following World War Two, hence the term 'baby boomers') really did swallow the Kennedy 'social contract' Kool-Aid quite profoundly when they were young; they really did buy into this whole idea of devoting forty years of one's life to a kinda crappy office job, to raising a family and buying a home and perpetuating the military-industrial complex that kept the US and Europe the undisputed financial leaders on the planet for more than half a century, in return for a fabled old age of leisure and wealth and cutting-edge medicine, a time when they can finally sit down and bang out that book they put off writing for decades (or paint those paintings, or grow that garden, or take that globetrotting trip), but in this case with style and financial stability and long-established health insurance to boot. And now here we are, forty years since the Kennedy era, and sure enough millions more of these people are retiring each and every year these days; and sure enough, every single one of them seem to be sitting down and cranking out a book they've been working on in their heads for forty freaking years, providing a deep and wide breadth of new literature that we should all treasure for suddenly now existing.

Take for example Sardinian Silver, the first novel by retired language professor and playwright A. Colin Wright, which he plainly admits is based on real experiences from his youth; specifically, the short period from his own Kennedy-era days that he spent on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, back in the early 1960s before it had become the middle-class tourist mecca it now is. It's a fantastic short read, to tell you the truth, like discovering a lost Graham Greene story or something; but that of course is the problem with books like these too, that by waiting forty years to write this, it simply will never have the kind of power or impact that Greene himself had when publishing his similar tales back in the actual early '60s. And that's why this growing collection of baby-boomer books are destined to exist mostly at this ghettoized basement-press and self-published level, and why in many ways it's actually your job as a reader to go out and find these kinds of books, if one wishes to have the quietly pleasurable experience of reading them; because books like these are definitely worth your time, but simply aren't worth HarperCollins spending a million bucks on. That's just the drawback of waiting forty years to do a creative project, is that the appropriate zeitgeisty moment for that project has already long passed; and that of course is why we as a society have such radically different views on amateur creativity now, and why people are much more encouraged these days to write such books while holding their crappy day jobs, not to wait until retirement to do so.

Because make no mistake, this slim manuscript is a Mid-Century Modernist wet dream, not only from the aspect of cultural references but even the tone and pacing of it all. Set in 1961, it's the story of young Brit Arthur Fraser, who in a bout of restlessness has recently accepted a slightly disreputable job as a jet-setting tourist-company rep; his job during these "Swinging London" times is essentially to laze around various unknown yet trendy hotspots around the world, so that when customers of his travel agency show up for their vacations, he can help them find the cool unknown neighborhood pubs and whatever other prurient little things they're looking for. This gives Arthur the excuse, then, to spend his days essentially bumming from one local venue to the next, drinking and flirting with the natives, hanging out with his fellow adventure-craving early-twenties rival tour reps; and along the way, he of course falls in love with various women, has sex with various women, breaks up with various women, and all the rest of the drama you would expect from a good-looking 24-year-old suddenly living full-time on a desolated Mediterranean island.

In fact, for those familiar with her, this book actually reminds me a lot of the Modernist-era work of crime novelist Patricia Highsmith (author of The Talented Mr. Ripley among many others), not in content but rather because of what both authors are trying to accomplish with their manuscripts, of the way both paint an indelible portrait of sleepy southern Europe during the height of the continent's postwar economic prosperity and optimism. The fact is that Wright takes his time here with his story, making plot a dim second to the mere establishment of time and place and mood, gently exploring the back alleys and side daytrips of this remarkable island with a kind of grace and ease that only comes with maturity. And in this, astute readers might be reminded as well of the "Alexandria Quartet" by Lawrence Durrell, which once again was written in the same period this book is set; like those four short novels all set in Egypt, this too really relishes the time it spends with eccentric locals, really takes the effort to try to make you feel what it was actually like to be in this particular exotic location at this particular moment in history. And like the author, I too was more entertained than annoyed by all the youthful self-caused mistakes Arthur makes in his love life while there; and this is yet another benefit to Wright penning this at the point in his life when he did, that his age and experience lets him now look back and gently laugh at the indiscretions of his youth, to reflect on them with the emotional distance that makes them truly memorable tales. (And don't get me started on how charmed I was by the book's contemplative epilogue, in which Arthur visits the now unrecognizable island in the post-tourism-boom 2000s, looking back wryly on how different his life would've been if he had only made a couple of different key decisions during his first time there, musing aloud whether such an alternative life would've ultimately been better or worse than the one he did end up living.)

But of course you see the problem here; that nearly every detail I've mentioned, from the books it resembles to the subjects discussed, are nearly half a century old at this point, making Sardinian Silver fine for what it is but simply decades past its cultural prime. And that's been a part as well of me reading a growing amount of these basement-press baby-boomer books, a growing frustration over all these people being taught back then to delay their creative sides for decades to begin with; what a shame, I many times think while reading books like these, that someone like Wright isn't a young hungry creative right this moment, a period of history when such people are encouraged to write these kinds of books when they matter the most, when they can have the absolutely biggest cultural impact they can. That's the thing I want to make most clear today, and is of course the root of the grand irony which is retired-baby-boomer literature; that like I said before, this novel is without a doubt as good as one of Graham Greene's minor works, and in fact could easily be mistaken for some forgotten Greene tale that's been gathering dust in some attic trunk for decades. What a shame, then, that Wright wasn't able to publish this book when Greene was publishing too, and have the kind of impact that Greene originally had when he too was fresh and exciting.

It's for these reasons that a book like Sardinian Silver is such a satisfying read, but also a book that by its nature will simply never become an unexpected hit, will never get picked up by a mainstream press for national distribution. It's yet another reason why smart lovers of books do themselves so much of a favor by sometimes trawling the so-called "gutter" of self-published, print-on-demand literature; as books like these show, millions of retiring baby boomers are rapidly turning this once-derided section of the industry into a legitimate new option for finding brilliant new novels, titles that fall in the weird middle ground between mainstream and experimental. There may never exist a simple guide to such books, and no splashy Hollywood adaptations may come from them; but for those simply interested in reading great books, such unfiltered wading through this print-on-demand world can many times produce surprisingly great results.

Out of 10: 9.0






Sardinian Silver 

Anthony Colin Wright 

ISBN: 9780595481002 


Reviewed By Linda Waterson 


Official Apex Reviews Rating:  



When Arthur arrives in Sardinia, he quickly finds it to be his version of 

heaven on earth. From the scenery to the native customs to the folkways and 

mores of the local residents, the idyllic island has everything his heart could ever 

ask for - that is, until he meets the enchanting Anna, a breathtaking beauty who 

soon becomes the sole focus of his existence. 


Convinced that marrying a Sard girl would be the culmination of his living 

fantasy, Arthur decides to pursue Anna - albeit cautiously - by using his best friend 

to send a special gift to her; however, when his plan backfires and Anna instead 

falls for his friend, his compulsive obsession with her only grows, setting off a 

prolonged - and often hilarious - series of misadventures centered on his 

unwavering determination to finally find true love. 


Sardinian Silver is an engaging, entertaining read. In it, author Anthony 

Colin Wright uses powerful imagery and a vivid cast of characters to bring a 

compelling story of love - both sought and lost - to impressive life. Wright’s 

depictions of Sardinia and its lush, flowing features is enough to make the reader 

pine for an extended stay, and the sheer earnestness of Arthur’s ill-fated pursuits is 

sure to spark the flames of nostalgic passion in many a lovelorn soul. 


A compelling testament to the true power of persistence, Sardinian Silver 

is a sobering, yet amusing reminder of the emotional fragility that lies within us all. 

Highly recommended.