"A powerful story about love and obligation, set in the Western isles...bringing together historical facts and contemporary life...a persuasive novel very well written." (John Burnside)
In this case I’m very glad I bought the Audible book along with the Kindle edition, because the reading by Carolyn Bonnyman is excellent. The novel is set in the Hebrides (on a small fictional island named Garve) and it enhanced the total experience to listen to it read in a Scottish accent by someone who could even manage the occasional quotes in Gaelic. I think it’s a book I’m likely to listen to again just for the joy of a good reading performance.
The book interweaves two stories:
Alys, from modern-day Edinburgh, revisits the small (fictional) Hebridean island of Garve after twenty five years. She is divorced and misses her son who is on holiday elsewhere with his father and his new wife. On Garve, Alys gets reaquainted with Donal, an old playmate from holidays back in their childhood. In the hotel where Alys is staying, she also gets fascinated by an old embroidered cabinet on display. This turns out to have connection to Donal’s family.
The cabinet also turns up in the parallell story of a woman who was brought to the island three hundred years earlier; and Donal’s forefather Manus.
Compared to some other back-and-forth-in-time novels I’ve been reading lately, this one has less focus on mystery, and more on romance. The two stories, present and past, run parallell rather than being all tangled up. (And yet…) Even if perhaps the book’s strongest point is not the “plot”, I still found it a good read.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
From the first I was totally hooked by this beautifully read romantic novel. The story of Alys visiting the island of Garve in the present day is skillfully interwoven with that of Henrietta taken there against her will 300 years ago. Despite the time difference the two women share similar concerns. Especially poignant is their yearning for their sons. The magic of the Western Isles of Scotland creates a dramatic background to a tale of romance, heartache, intigue and drama. The characters are well defined and engaging. The language is poetic, enhanced by the gaelic lilt of the reader. A gripping story with wonderful images of one of the loveliest parts of the country. I look forward to enjoying more from this exciting writer.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
The moral of the story is, don’t tempt your friend’s malicious pride or she may have you stolen away. Beautifully read; Carolyn Bonnyman is my favourite reader in all Audiobooks. This is not as complex as Amanda Scott’s highland and Border series but it’s evocative of a longing for a simple and isolated life that resonated with me. Watch out for traditional roles for women getting thrilled with house makeovers! Otherwise it’s a little intriguing.