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Saturday, 18 January 2014

a good review

It is always good to get a positive review. Both 'Follow the Dove' and 'The Broken Horizon' have been very well received.  Some reviews do not say much more than 'I loved this book' others go into much more detail.  On the face of it, my Raumsey trilogy may look like a family saga, but I have tried to be different, as personally, I don't read family sagas.  So how would I define my own writing?  Which genre would it fit?  'Follow the Dove' is historical, a love story, a true account of island life on a now deserted scrap of land in the Pentland Firth. Aimed primarily at women, the novel is also loved by many men (to my surprise). Basically, it is a slice of life meant to transport the reader back in time, to carry them to another world where the greatest threat is poverty, yet throughout the trials and hardships, the strength of the human spirit shines on. I want to leave you with the sense that you know the characters, care about them, have lived with them and want to know more. And the good news is that 'Follow the Dove' is the first in a Trilogy.

Below is one of the more detailed reviews.  I found it particularly interesting as, although my book is very popular in Scotland, I was not sure how it would be received by someone with no Scottish ties, someone from across the pond, for instance.  For that reason, I decided to share the following review with you.

  5.0 out of 5 stars Life at Its Best and Worst on Scotland's Islands, June 23, 2012
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Follow the Dove (Paperback)

Set in late 1899 and early 1900 on the Scottish islands of Kirkwell and Raumsey off the coast of Scotland, the residents, for the most part, were desperately poor, their income gleaned from a minimum amount of fishing by the men of the islands on small boats, and eggs and other farm produce they sold to large boats that pulled in there. The islands were isolated during the winter because of ocean storms and the cold. These conditions caused the islanders to experience love, heart ache, exhaustion, poverty, hope, hopelessness, death, family cohesiveness and family rejection.

Fifteen year old Isa Muirison on the island of Kirkwell saw young Davie Reid from the island of Raumsey and "the first time she saw him, Isa forgot to breathe." She worked in a packing warehouse and was warned to stay away from Davie or any of the Reid clan for they bootlegged illegal whiskey. She stalked him until she met him and he reciprocated an interest in her. She had to be careful that her parents didn't know about him because her mother was so afraid that one of her girls might have a child before she was wed and ruin her life. Isa had an older sister, Annie, sick with consumption and the center of attention because the family knew she was slowly dying. Isa's father, Sandy, declared that he was moving the entire family to Canada as there was work available, but Isa didn't want to go. Her mother Martha didn't want to go either, but her life had been so harsh, she had no will to resist.

The Reid family expected Davie to marry Chrissie Adams, a young girl on Raumsey island, but Davie wasn't interested, although because of Chrissie expecting to marry Davie and becoming bold, they one time indulged themselves sexually. Davie, a little chagrined at his actions, did what he could to side step Chrissie and met Isa after work a few times.

Annie declined rapidly and died. Isa felt isolated from her parents as she felt their love had centered on Annie and they ignored her. In her naiveté, the next time Davie met her after work, she sought his love and he was eager to give it and they united sexually. In about six weeks, Isa found she was pregnant. Her mother couldn't accept it and turned her back on her. She had no one to turn to, believing that Davie would marry her and take care of the situation, but by the time Davie was able to get back to her island to see her, she was six months along.

Davie's mother, Tyne, already overworked and struggling to make do with three grown sons, Jaimsey, Jack and Davie, and a husband, Dan, became most angry when Davie brought Isa to their home on Raumsey island. She made it known that she had no use for any girl who would conceive out of wedlock and treated Isa badly. Their home was too small for the family and Jaimsey is to marry Mary-Jane, whom Tyne approved of, and would be another female to help with the work.

Isa after attempting to get Tyne to accept her became exceedingly unhappy there and Tyne found a place for her to stay for her room and board with a woman named Jessie. Jessie, exceedingly overweight, lived like a pig and Isa felt she couldn't stand it, but she had no choice. She set to work and cleaned up the house, which Jessie appreciated. Jessie had a grown son out of wedlock who had left years before and Isa found Jessie to be sympathetic, loving and kind to her. The two women grew to love each other.

The following years are filled with difficult times for Isa and Davie, who never ceased loving each other, but Davie was an indecisive man becoming dependent on drinking, although Isa being a strong girl who bore two children almost worked herself to death. Jaimsie and Jack fished under dangerous conditions and while Davie's father Dan and Jaimsie were even tempered men, Jack had a hidden anger that made him violent. Poverty and sickness threatened these family members continuously and sometimes out of love and sometimes out of just plain cussedness, they helped or hurt each other.

This tale is well written, the descriptions of the islands and the ocean storms are vivid and the characterizations of the people are so real that the reader lives the story. The author is Scottish and gives us a taste of life as it was there in those times. I loved this novel and recommend it.

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