John Lestrade is attempting to come to terms with the suicide of his friend Stephen, and his guilt that he did nothing to prevent it. Escape to a room on the hill is an act of internal exile, an attempt to find the space to overcome the inauthentic, automaton quality of his life.
But Lestrade’s self-loathing despair poisons any hope of reconnecting with his friends. It is only when his friend Derek’s abandoned girlfriend is killed in a car crash, and is then refused a proper burial by the Catholic church, that Lestrade is moved to action.
In its energy and in its rejection of the colonial straight-jacket that locks in the middle-class intellectuals in the novel, there remains in A Room on the Hill some possibility of honest reflection and escape.
Garth St. Omer was born in St Lucia in 1931. During the early 1950s St. Omer was part of a group of artists in St Lucia including Roderick and Derek Walcott. His first publication, the novella Syrop, appeared in 1964, followed by the Faber publications of A Room on the Hill (1968), Shades of Grey (1968), Nor Any Country (1969) and J-, Black Bam and the Masqueraders in 1972. In the 1970s he moved to the USA, where he completed a doctoral thesis at Princeton University in 1975. Until his retirement as Emeritus Professor, he taught at the University of Santa Barbara in California. In 2001 he was honoured with the Saint Lucia Medal of Merit for service in the Arts and Literature.