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The Island House [Hardcover]

Posie Graeme-Evans
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 Aug 2012

Freya Dane has inherited Findnar, a small island off the east coast of Scotland from her long-estranged father. Michael Dane - like Freya, an archaeologist - has left her research notes and artifacts from the island's Viking and Christian past. But what he found is only the beginning of a story that began in 800 AD.

It is then that Signy, a Pictish girl from the nearby mainland, narrowly escapes dying along with the rest of her family in a Viking raid. Taken in by the survivors from the new Christian monastery on Findnar, she learns their language and their ways - even the mysteries of writing. But before she can take her vows as a nun, she falls in love with Magni. Like Signy, he is a survivor of the raid, but unlike her, he is a proud follower of the Viking way. Forced to choose between her native religion, her adopted faith and the man she loves, Signy's life is set on a tragic course . . .

As the island's terrifying past is revealed, it seems that Findnar may be as dangerous now in the twenty-first century as it was twelve hundred years ago.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (2 Aug 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340920416
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340920411
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16 x 4.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,421,750 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Historical fiction gallops to new heights in this debut tale of intrigue, lust and betrayal. (Woman's Own on THE INNOCENT)

The reader is taken on a galloping ride through the Middle Ages and the shaky reign of Edward IV, the love of Anne's life. There's lust, conspiracy and impressive historical detail to set the scene. (Daily Telegraph, Sydney on THE INNOCENT)

Posie Graeme-Evans' masterful prose brings vividly to life the colours, sounds, smells and sights of a romantic and thrilling period in history. (Sydney Weekly Courier on THE EXILED)

The sequel to THE INNOCENT and every bit as good, with its richly detailed settings, intrigue, adventure and sizzling love affair between King Edward and Lady Anne. (Australian Women's Weekly on THE EXILED)

'Her descriptive powers give her tale an assured and authentic touch.' (The Age, Melbourne on THE DRESSMAKER)

'A beautifully written book with vivid descriptions and all the delicious elements required for true escapism.' (Sunday Herald Sun, Australia on THE DRESSMAKER)

Book Description

Posie Graeme-Evans' new novel plunges the reader into a past that never dies and a love that reaches out across a thousand years, as a young archaeologist unearths ancient secrets and Viking treasure on a remote Scottish island.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent... 27 Nov 2012
By jaffareadstoo TOP 500 REVIEWER
Mystical Pictish Gods combined with the superstition of ancient Christianity and the ruthless power of the Vikings, all merge together in this fascinating and compelling dual time historical novel. Freya Dane is the modern day protagonist who after her father's tragic death inherits the Scottish island of Findnar. In order to complete her PhD in archaeology, Freya must make sense of her father's handwritten notes about the history of the island he once called home. But the island is steeped in mystery and has its own terrible story to tell, and all too soon Freya is aware that ancient forces are challenging her to put right a terrible wrong.

Without doubt this is one of the best dual time books I have read in a long time. The author has managed to convey time and place quite beautifully so that neither time period outshines the other. The characters both ancient and modern are vibrant and compelling and the added power of ancient superstition resonating across centuries forms a stunningly good story.

In The Island House, Posie Graeme Evans has conjured the ancient world in such a way that long after the book is finished the story lingers in the shadows of your mind, and as the sea breeze blows in your hair and the sound of sea birds float on the wind, the island house still resonates with echoes of the past.

If I could give it more than five stars, I would.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable book 25 Oct 2013
By Babs
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Saw someone reading this book and ordered as it looked interesting. Really enjoyed. Quite different from the usual books I like to read. Lots of quite thought provoking information too!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  29 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars evocative dual time novel - needed more character development 21 Dec 2012
By Amelia68 - Published on
The Island House is an evocative dual time novel, skilfully blending the past and present together through archaeological discoveries and some paranormal activity on a remote windswept Scottish island.

After the sudden death of her estranged father, Freya Dane travels to Findnar, a remote island off the coast of Scotland, to visit the cottage she has inherited. An archaeologist like her late father, she is intrigued by some of the finds he has stored in the cottage's undercroft, as well as an unfinished letter he wrote to Freya shortly before his death, referring to being haunted by vivid visions of the past connected to the island's rich history.

Looking further into the island's past, Freya is soon plagued by visions similar to those of her father's, images of a brutal raid and a young girl in mortal danger. With the help of the local librarian and a young man who had been involved in the incident that took her father's life, Freya sets out to make sense of her father's legacy to her and unravel the secrets of the island's Viking and Christian past.

Switching over to the time period of 800 AD, the novel also tells the story of Signy, a young Pictish girl, who loses her whole family in a Viking raid and is taken in by Findnar's Christian community, who have established a monastery on the island. Magni, a young Viking badly burnt in the sacking of the village, has also been taken in by the charitable nuns and is being nursed back to health. Both being considered pagans and outsiders, the two children form a firm friendship with the dream of returning home to their individual villages one day. However, soon Signy's loyalties are being tested when Christian beliefs challenge those of her ancestors, and Signy becomes a nun herself with the hope of atoning for her sins - ultimately resulting in tragedy for herself and those who are dearest to her.

Reminiscent of Barbara Erskine's novels (such as Lady of Hay), Signy's traumatic past interlinks with Freya's life on the island through paranormal events involving Freya herself and several people she comes into contact with on Findnar. I loved the evocative descriptions of Signy's life and felt myself totally intrigued by the events leading up to the images which have haunted Freya's father and which now torment her. The author manages to seamlessly switch between the past and the present, weaving a rich tale spanning time periods more than a thousand years apart. Her descriptions of the Viking raids are vividly betrayed, as is the clash of Christianity with the animistic religions prevalent in the area at the time, which has dire consequences for Signy. Her struggle to find a balance between the beliefs of her ancestors and the new austere Christian God is very touching, and skilfully portrays the influence of a strict belief system on other cultures.

Scotland also comes alive with the author's evocative descriptions of a bleak, windswept and yet breathtakingly beautiful landscape still shrouded in its colourful past. Reading the book I wanted to jump on the next plane and go there! Setting the opening scene amidst the arrival of a comet in the night skies created an atmosphere of mystery and possibility, which the author skilfully used to link the two parallel storylines. Graeme-Evans' awe for Scotland's past and its harsh beauty shows through her writing, and her descriptions of the landscape and historical events are well researched and portrayed.

Unfortunately parts of the modern-day sections of the novel let me down in its overall enjoyment. As one of the main protagonists, Freya remained remote and distant, a bit of an enigma which I found very hard to relate to. Similarly, the relationships she forms with people around her often seem confusing as they are inconsistent with her guarded and reserved personality. For example, the intense dislike Dan and Freya feel for each other is suddenly seamlessly transformed into affection without any explanation to the reader. Being one of those annoying readers who gets hung up on technicalities I had several "yeah right!" moments when the author stretched credibility a bit too far. I don't pretend to have any knowledge whatsoever about archaeology (apart from watching the Time Team on ABC), but I do have a pretty good grasp of human anatomy - excavating a whole human skeleton out of peat loam single-handedly in one day and bagging it neatly before nightfall was stretching the imagination a bit too far for me (all those bones!).

On a similar note, Freya's archaeological finds get bigger and more fanciful as the novel progresses - I think the story would have worked just as well (or better) with one humble find rather than (SPOILER) an Indiana Jones like scenario towards the end. All modern day characters had huge potential to add depth to the story with their unique personalities, but somehow got lost in translation. I would have loved to see Simon more in the role as the modern-day villain - the novel needed one, and he had initially been set up to fit perfectly into that slot.

All in all, the "Island House" is a pleasurable journey into Scotland's past and makes a light and entertaining summer read. Recommended for fans of Barbara Erskine's dual time novels, and anyone enjoying the concept of the past haunting future generation. In the author's own words: "The past does not die. It waits."
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice book with a great setting 14 July 2012
By AnneB - Published on
Posie Graeme-Evans has written a good story about two interesting women, Freya from the present day and Signy from the past. Both characters were interesting to read about and both story lines are blended together into the story well. The setting of a Scottish island was wonderful and I enjoyed reading about this beautiful country and its people.

The only real problem I had with the book was the relationship between Freya and Dan, a local man Freya meets. At first they hate each other and it seemed like all of a sudden they decided they were in love. There was no build up to the relationship and it just didn't make sense to me that this man who had been so bitter and sad totally changed his personality over night. I enjoyed the relationship between Signy and the Viking boy, Bear much more. Bear was my favorite character, a strong and brave man who fought for what was important to him. The love story between him and Signy was heartbreaking and beautifully written.

The book flowed well and was easy to read. There are some great descriptions of the island and the artifacts that were found by Freya that I thought were great. This book was not perfect, but it was entertaining and I did enjoy reading it
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Silly romance 10 Feb 2014
By YBeatriz - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The book is a disguise to give us a tale of fantasy, romance, gifted people, all without real background. Boring
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So hard to put it down! 22 Dec 2013
By E. Semler - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I so enjoyed reading this book. It's one of those novels that takes you to another place and time. Great Read!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The history you never knew 13 Nov 2013
By Sharon - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Great history lesson. Descriptions painted beautiful pictures. I actually looked up some of the historic and geographic references. Very interesting.
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