At some point we have probably all fantasized about owning our own island, Adam Nicolson owns three, situated off the coast of Lewis in the Minch. I couldn’t actually find them in my Atlas but wander upto the Hebrides and you will get a rough idea of the type of place they are.
Now I like my escapism as much as the next man (especially if he is Harry Houdini), and real life stuff especially so this fits the bill.
Above all this book is a celebration of island life covering everything from hermits, geology, history, nature, social history and an all round appreciation for the simpler things in life.
What you get for your money is grand vistas and the harsh natural world, 500 feet black cliffs, a celebration of all that is natural, the majesty of the cliffs to the brutal characteristics of the sea. an immense feeling of time, as if you’re standing at the edge of the world.
There is cornucopia of wildlife to experience. Imagine standing amongst half a million puffins and hearing the cacophony of sound, although the sheer scale of observing everything is impossible, the way Adam Nicolson puts his observations down, it feels like the perfect picture.
the lyrical writing and the wonderful observation evoke romantic and even nostalgic feelings but this is tempered with the hard struggles and realities of life in the Hebrides giving a well rounded and poignant look at all aspects of island life. The mix of poetry, oral storytelling and traditions brings to life a lost world is both extremely accessible and warming,
Brilliantly researched, this is one of those books that makes you love a place you have never visited, in fact the only thing that disappointed me in the paperback version I have is that the black and white pictures are a bit fuzzy, this is such a minor (and the only) criticism that I can come up with. Happily even without pictures we could tailor this story to our own island fantasies but they do help give a feeling of connectedness.