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Island Wife: Living on the Edge of the Wild [Paperback]

Judy Fairbairns
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
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Book Description

15 Aug 2013

A memoir of a woman's life on a remote Scottish island: from young girl to wife to mother of five, hotelier and domestic miracle worker. Funny and tender, this is a book of endless horizons and a breath of fresh air.

'An unflinching and hugely entertaining story of family travails and triumphs.' - Kirsty Wark

'A sensitive, brave and honest look at a life lived in the wake of others' needs.' - The Daily Mail

ISLAND WIFE tells the story of Judy, who, at 19, met her Wild Pioneer. He whisked her off into an adventure, a marriage of forty years, and a life on a remote Hebridean island.

Along the way she bears five children, learns how to run a rocky hill farm, a hotel, a recording studio and the first whale watching business in the UK - all the while inventively making fraying ends meet. When her children start to leave home, things fall apart and there is sadness and joy in how she puts things back together. Judy tells her story in a clear and unique voice, in turns funny, unforgettable and intensely moving.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Two Roads (15 Aug 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1444759604
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444759600
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 14.5 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 55,501 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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The day-to-day details of a family who has followed the man's ambitions to a remote island are hilarious and very touching. A beautifully told story. (Mike Rutherford, founding member of Genesis)

Judy has written a wonderful collection of tales full of humour, hardship, humanity and wisdom set in a rich seasonal landscape of a remote Scottish island. A vivid portrait is painted of the land and characters and her affinity to nature is most endearing. It is a heart warming and honest story of love and companionship. Good for the soul. (Julie Mitchell-Galloway, Artistic Director, Edinburgh Dance Academy)

Island Wife is a breezy (in every sense), frequently funny and often dreadfully sad tale of a madcap adventure with an intrepid farmer husband and five children on a romantic Hebridean island, which often turns out to be not quite as romantic as the wide-eyed author had imagined. (Christopher Matthew, author and journalist)

Warm but never sentimental, Judy Fairbairns' writing treads a deft path through difficult times. It balances wry humour and lyrical delight, practical toughness and vulnerability in equal measure. Quite apart from the human lives contained and celebrated, the light sure touch of the writing is a joy to read. (Philip Gross, novelist and poet)

This book brings back such memories of neighbouring island years which were long ago the inspiration for the creation of Katie Morag. Judy Fairbairns captures the familiar pioneering passion of that time in the '60s and then takes us on the very personal subsequent journey ... Humour and honesty prevail throughout and always there is the poetic backdrop of the wild landscape of the island and the wild emotions that come and go with its tides. (Mairi Hedderwick, author of the Katie Morag series)

Brave, funny, poignant, beautifully written - in Island Wife, Judy Fairbairns tells a tale of cosseted girl who abandons all for love of a man who offers a life in which nothing is certain and everything changes. A story of triumph and disaster, joy and despair, the loneliness of motherhood and the companionship of children. But above all it's a story of the struggle to make the dream come true in a crazy tumbledown mansion in a wild corner of the most beautiful of the silvery sisters of the Hebrides, with a husband who was not, in spite of it all, a mistake. (Elisabeth Luard, food-writer, journalist, and broadcaster)

A moving account of a most unique life. (Image)

In this delightfully warm, frank memoir, Judy Fairbairns describes the ups and downs of life on a Scottish island estate. Full of humour and wisdom, this is also Judy's own story, and a touching and uplifting one at that. Her vibrancy - obvious at even the most testing of times - is evident on every page. (Good Book Guide)

A book to warm the cockles of your heart - you'll not find a better tribute to mothers the world over. (Candis Magazine)

Extraordinary. (Woman & Home)

This is a frequently beautiful autobiography that may well become a lifebelt for the thousands of women who find themselves drowning in the confusing storms that so often attend being a mother, wife and hard-working professional. (Herald Scotland)

This true story is one of stoicism, adventure and family in the face of adversities that threaten to wreck her dreams. (The Daily Express)

First there was the romance: moving to a tiny Hebridean island with wild orchids, wilder seas and the man she loves. Judy Fairbairns dutifully looks after livestock in bleak winters, raises five children and behaves just how the world and her husband thinks she should. But then her own storm kicks in and blasts open a door to a whole new life. (Sainsbury's Magazine)

This is exceptional. It is beautifully written with important things to say about how we value life, our relationships and our surroundings. (BBC Countrylife Magazine)

A sensitive, brave and honest look at a life lived in the wake of others' needs. (The Daily Mail)

An unflinching and hugely entertaining story of family travails and triumphs. (Kirsty Wark)

Book Description

A memoir of a woman's life on a remote Scottish island - from 19-year-old girl to wife of one to mother of five, hotelier, domestic miracle worker, to empty nester to writer. For fans of Wife in the North and Sightlines.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting 18 April 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I obtained this book at the same time as getting Cheryl Strayed's Wild and thought it might be interesting reading about these two remarkable women and their challenging experiences.

This is Fairbairns' story of her life as a carefree, somewhat rebellious, young woman swept off her feet by a hardy 'alpha male' farmer and their unusual transformation from successful farmers to opening the first whale watching business in the UK. Her writing is vivid yet matter of fact, laced with heartache and humour.

I do think the book would appeal to women readers perhaps more than men. I say this as my wife read it as well and she said she could relate to some experiences and statements Fairbairns expressed more than I did as a less than alpha male! Perhaps as a result my wife enjoyed this book more than I did.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tales of a Female Warrior / Worrier 21 Mar 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
How I enjoyed this book. Quite different, so well written and I was swept along with the tales beautifully described by Judy Fairbairns of her life on meeting Alex.
I really don't want to give much away but I will say that Island Wife as well as humourous does leave you feeling your life is quite possibly dull / far too sedentary; as Judy tackles life on a Hebridean island with 5 young children, a vast estate to run (encompassing hotel, cottages, livestock, inlaws and pets) with quite the most chauvinistic, uncommunicative yet charismatic husband.
The book touches on her bouts of depression and feelings of wretched self esteem, lack of identity and 'joy de vivre'. You really want to reach out and give her a big hug. I also felt enormously frustrated at her stoicism - that's women for you!!
However - the ending is good - and I immediately looked up her blog to see where she is at now.
Her writing is beautiful. I am quite sure most people will really enjoy this book.
I am taking on board totally her Can Do attitude and I'm not complaining about my comparatively meagre domestic chores!!!!!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lady to look up to! 27 Feb 2013
By Mrs. Katharine Kirby TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A near miraculous tale, well told, of a courageous, bright, strong woman who of necessity has to reinvent herself several times during the few decades we get to know her. Judy Fairbairns is clearly relishing her chance to the tell her side of the story; as one half of a full on no holds barred marriage, managing a relationship that shows every dangerous sign of being teeteringly top heavy in the `Master of The House's' direction.

The work that she gets through with a laugh and a wink will take your breath away as much as the sheer poetry she finds on her Topsy Turvey Island. Every day is an adventure, much is asked and much is given, this is a different life, for sure, a paradise for children, free of the computer, phone, tv, just clear sea air and trees to climb, deer to watch, animals to care for. As Judy generously ties up all the loose ends we feel part of the family and our caring is respected to the extent that I am now longing for the next decade to unravel for the Fairbairns one and all.

The writer is always prepared to accept personal responsibility. She made me feel close to her during the small tragedies, domestic emergencies and demanding challenges that inevitably cropped up. Mistakes are made and openly admitted to, with wistful regret. I liked the way in which Judy does take things to heart so; it rang a lot of bells for me. We are bred the same way!

At last a book that enlivens, entertains, rewards and touches the heart. As I romped through I kept thinking of different friends and family I want to buy it for, knowing that they would really enjoy it too.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My goodness but Judy Fairbairns deserves some TLC* and TTH* and recognition for her extraordinary life! Married young, lumbered with 5 children and a husband who has no idea of what a woman needs (at least occasionally!), Judy has spent her entire adult life working like a slave at her husband's businesses - first a farm, then a massive hotel with add-ons like a recording studio and whale watching business with farm animals as well. I read this book in one day with increasing horror and respect for the way that Judy, completely unprepared for this way of life, rolled up her sleeves and got stuck in, year after year, with no reward, no money, no recognition, no hope of remission. Her husband was an 'ideas man' who kept coming up with ways of working and making money all of which involved her in pretty much 24/7 work as well as trying to bring up a family. This is a truly remarkable story of survival almost against the odds and I would recommend it to anyone who thinks (a) farming sounds like a nice ecological thing to do, (b) running a guest house will be fun, (c) being married to a farmer would be romantic, (d) having lots of children would be stimulating, (e) living on a remote Scottish island would be a great way to get away from it all ... this book will cure you instantly. It should also be read by anyone who thinks they have a hard lot in life - compared to this woman, you are sleeping on rose petals in some kind of utopian paradise!
This would be a great book to give a disgruntled teen who thinks their life is too hard, or a complaining co-worker who thinks they work too many hours, or almost anyone who thinks that their current life is tough - trust me, this woman had it much tougher for much longer.

*Tender Loving Care and Time To Herself
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars What a glorious read
I laughed till I cried, cried till I laughed, empathised, sympathised and every other emotion including a little bit of jealousy!! Read more
Published 1 month ago by Deborah bowyer
4.0 out of 5 stars book
Not got round to reading it yet, but she is a good author, so should enjoy it when i do get round to reading it
Published 1 month ago by Mrs. J. M. Dalby
5.0 out of 5 stars Island Wife
I absolutely loved this book! I laughed out loud, cried, felt sadness, frustration and empathy, in fact the whole gamut of emotions. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Island Wife. Living on the edge of the Wild
I came across this book title by chance and decided to buy it as I like books that hold a bit of an adventurous theme to them . I was not disappointed. Read more
Published 2 months ago by jan
5.0 out of 5 stars five star winner
Fantastic book ...witty ..serous in places ...sometimes sad
. ......loved granny at the gate every minute of reading this
Published 3 months ago by buzzboy123
5.0 out of 5 stars Food for the soul
As a man in my 50's I'm probably not the target audience if there is such a thing for this remarkable book. Read more
Published 4 months ago by bruce milroy
5.0 out of 5 stars Humanity at its best!
Wonderful human story proving that whatever adversity life throws at you the human spirit can prevail! I enjoyed every page immensely!
Published 5 months ago by david mackellar
3.0 out of 5 stars Island Wife, Living on the Edge
Having spent a summer working there...I find her story has a lot of artistic license. I am glad she came through all of this, for her, but it was very difficult to work there with... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Yukon Gael
5.0 out of 5 stars So true to the real Judies life.
I think actually knowing Judy makes little difference to the way the book is enjoyed. Yes it does mirror a lot of her life but is so well written that... Read more
Published 5 months ago by daviewat
2.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't finish this!
I couldn't get beyond the "oh how wonderful I am" tone.
Not for me, couldn't warm to her or even loathe her enough to be engaged to the end. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Mrs C.
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