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The Island House Hardcover – 2 Aug 2012


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (2 Aug. 2012)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0340920416
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340920411
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 3.8 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,767,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By jaffareadstoo TOP 500 REVIEWER on 27 Nov. 2012
Format: Hardcover
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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By Babs on 25 Oct. 2013
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 Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 30 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
evocative dual time novel - needed more character development 21 Dec. 2012
By Amelia68 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
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
Nice book with a great setting 14 July 2012
By AnneB - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
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
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Slow starting, but its worth the effort!!!! 27 Nov. 2012
By Gail Tams - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Really worth the read...it does takes a while (maybe 1st 2 chapters) to get into the story.and work out just what its all about!
It crosses between 2 timelines and is done very well. I did think it ended a bit abruptly, so maybe there is a sequel?
Like always, all is revealed as you progress....really worth reading and I give 4 stars!!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
An intricately woven tale that will capture your imagination 30 Sept. 2012
By Jennifer Rothwell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The phrase on the front of this novel reads "The past does not die. It waits." and that statement is the perfect summary of how this novel encouraged me to perceive history. Freya Dane, an untried archaeologist, travels to the Scottish island of Findnar and uncovers a story that has been hidden for centuries. Through her own findings, and those of her father before her, she pieces together the tale of a Viking boy and a Pictish girl who fell in love in the ninth century and who were pulled apart by the constraining religion of the people who cared for them both after a Viking raid that left Bear disfigured and Signy an orphan.
The author did an excellent job of portraying the mix of religious beliefs in this novel, and in trying to perceive how the early Christians of the Celtic Church would have viewed both the gods of the Viking raiders and the Pictish Gods of Signy's people. One can understand how the religion of the Vikings could be seen as evil by those whom their raids affected, however Signy's beliefs are also considered the work of Satan by the Christians, most notably for their acceptance of sexuality as an inherent human urge that does not need to be repressed, but rather embraced. The nun who cares for Bear and Signy, Gunnhilde, seems to have Signy's best interest at heart, however her preching of carnal sin to Signy wrenches her away from Bear--which has disastrous consequences not only for the unfortunate couple, but for the entire community itself.
The novel switches back and forth between Signy's time period and the present day, where Freya herself is struggling with human emotions of a different kind. It was the death of her father that brought Freya to Findnar, the island of his life and his work. Surrounded by her father's unfinished research she begins to form a relationship with her father that she was denied during his life. It brought me to tears at times to read of Freya talking to her dad and telling him that she was going to finish uncovering what he had started. I was glad when Daniel entered the story, as I felt that as a character Freya needed companionship, and the addition of a love interest was a nice touch.
Overall this was a wonderfully written novel that wasn't confusing in the way that many novels that contain two time periods can be. I would like to note that although this novel is not at all what I would call fantasy, there is an element of the supernatural about it in how Freya sees certain visions of the past. They are not overly embellished and truthfully I found them to be an interesting, although slightly eerie, addition to the novel. Just thought it was worth mentioning though, in case that doesn't appeal to some.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Intriguing historical novel of Scotland 4 July 2012
By Silver's Reviews - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Singy and Freya are living parallel lives on the Scottish Island of Findnar, but during different times in history. Singy lived on Findnar during the time of a Viking raid where her entire family was murdered and Freya living in present day came from Australia to her dead father's Island House to finish her PhD in archaeology and to complete his research and to find the many historical, hidden treasures on Findnar.

It was exciting to be with Freya as she uncovered items noted on her father's research cards and items that had been used and left by Singy when she had lived on the island. On the other hand, it was heartbreaking to see the harsh life Singy had lived with the nuns and monks.

Ms. Graeme-Evans did an outstanding job of blending the two stories together. When Freya discovers something from Singy's era, you will be excited because you actually know the real story of the find and want to let Freya know. History buffs will go crazy with the archeological finds Freya uncovers.

The author described the two main characters in detail and as equivalent to each other with their likeness being the island they lived on and the people in their lives. There is even a parallel between their two love stories. The secondary characters are just as fascinating and are vital to the book's awe and storyline and are appealing in terms of their uniqueness.

The cover in itself is intriguing, and once I started reading, it was easy to get absorbed. The storyline and writing style are perfect in all respects, and the lives of Singy and Freya keep you looking for more. The interesting detail on the author's part and such a marvelous blending of the two eras along with the flawless, captivating storyline that moved from one era to the next will keep you turning the pages and wanting to see more of what was to come.

As the chapters flowed from one character and one era to the other, you will see the similarities in the setting and lifestyle, but of course one is more primitive than the other. I loved how the ending sentence or simply one single word of a chapter was the beginning of the other era in the next chapter. What a beautiful writing style as well as a magnificent book.

Don't miss this exceptional read that brought past and present together in an unforgettable tale of love, loss, hidden treasures, and discovery. Ms. Graeme-Evans did a remarkable job in this compelling read that will be in my list of favorites because of the history, the mystery, and the added flare of Scotland's magic and its legends and myths. 5/5

I received a free copy of this book from Simon & Schuster in return for an honest review.
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