Some years ago an old tin trunk and its contents were given to the author of this book by an old lady approaching her ninetieth year. She was the only daughter of a guard who had been deployed to work in French Guiana (Devil?s Island) during the early days of the twentieth century. The rusting old box was full of the diaries, sketches, papers and personal effects of a young man and his wife, who were based in one of the most notorious jungle work camps in the penal colony and whose duty it was to attempt to control some of France?s worst transported criminals. The author studied and researched the contents of the trunk and with the help of countless conversations with the fascinating old lady, the extraordinary story that came out of the Surveillant?s old tin trunk can now be retold.
The book is a powerful, compelling and haunting depiction of family and convict life in the overseas prison colonies of France. It is a tale of love, hatred, deception and vengance that pendulums between the romantic and the horrific without missing a beat.
Illustrated with contemporary photographs, paintings and sketches that are historically immensly significant, The Surveillant?s Old Tin Trunk provides an unparalleled insight into the troubled life of a young family man stationed in what has always been known as perhaps the most infamous and brutal penal colony ever to have existed.