Top positive review
Just dive straight in!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 9 June 2022
Utterly consumed this book as quick as it consumed me! What a beautiful setting for a story, and a beautiful main character. This historical fiction set in 1930 tells the story of Effie Gillies, a young girl living on the island of St Kilda. The island is remote and unforgiving, with the inhabitants scaling cliff faces to hunt and relying on their skills to survive. Having lost her brother, Effie has learnt the skills required to carry out the ‘mens work’ in order to provide for her and her father, much to the distaste of some of the other men on the island. She ferociously defends her right to provide for her family and defies the traditional roles that the islanders usually carry out.
When the island becomes host to two high society visitors, Effie finds herself in charge of guiding their visit after her knowledge of the local wildlife becomes apparent. The Earl of Dumfries and his son Sholto are impressed by her knowledge and her skills. Over the course of the week they partake in a number of ‘adventures’ that are part of Effie’s daily life. But Effie finds for the first time that she is falling in love with Sholto, and their familiarity and friendship is frowned upon by the rest of her community. When the time comes for Sholto and the Earl to leave, Effie is heartbroken.
Three months later the islanders learn that their request to be evacuated to the mainland and found suitable accommodation and employment is granted. Upon moving to the mainland, Effie and her father receive an unexpected visitor in the form of the Earl, who offers Effie a job at his estate curating his ornithology collection. But when Effie makes the trip to the Earl’s estate, she discovers Sholto appears less than happy to see her.
This book is based around a true story, in terms of the history of St Kilda and the evacuation of its inhabitants in the 1930s but the characters and the events are fiction. I loved his book so much. It was a refreshing read, based around nature and wildness, down to earth living and simplicity. I think my favourite part of this book was Effie’s reaction to seeing her own reflection for the first time- it literally made me grin from ear to ear. I loved Effie’s views on nature, for example, that flowers are more beautiful in their natural setting than in a vase.
My only regret about this book was that I felt the ending was too fast.
I definitely recommend this book if you are seeking something different to anything else you’ll read this year. It is a beautiful story in beautiful settings, with a strong and determined female lead who proves time and time again that she is as good as her male counterparts.