This is a wonderfully evocative book, based around the true tenure of the minister of the Church sent to the islands of St Kilda, Neil MacKenzie and his wife, in 1830. From then, until the book ends in 1844, we read of the lives of not only MacKenzie and his spiritual quest, but his wife and her own quest, and we catch glimpses of the lives of those who have for centuries endured life in the harsh environment of St Kilda. Stuck on small islands at the mercy of the elements, those who survived life in the St Kilda islands had a unique outlook on life, the universe, and their place within it. This is captured beautifully in this story; life was harsh, but made sense to the islanders. The cycle of life and death was real and known to them; their own struggles to bear and raise children to ensure the surirval of their way of life on the islands echo the struggles of the islands themselves, and the wildlife living on them.
I love books about times, people and places who are so far removed from our own lives and times; and this book captures a time and place that is totally alien to us now, so far distant in both its own reality and its own time. A time, unfortunately, that was doomed to eventually end for those who had for centuries survived on the harsh world on the edge of the Atlantic.
A wonderful story, beautifully written; highly recommended.