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The Lighthouse Stevensons [Paperback]

Bella Bathurst
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
RRP: £9.99
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Product Description

Amazon Review

I for one had no idea that the 14 lighthouses dotting the Scottish coast were all built by the same Stevenson family that produced Robert Louis Stevenson, Scotland's most famous novelist. But Bella Bathurst throws a powerful, revolving light into the darkness of this historical tradition. Robert Louis was a sickly fellow, and--unlike the rest of his strong-willed, determined family--certainly not up to the astonishing rigours of lighthouse building, all of which are vividly described here. To build these towering structures in the most inhospitable places imaginable (such as the aptly named Cape Wrath), using only 19th-century technology is an achievement that beggars belief. The comparison that comes to mind is with the pyramid building of ancient Egypt. For instance, we learn that the ground rocks for the Skerryvore lighthouse were prepared by hand (even though the "gneiss could blunt a pick in three blows") in waves and winds "strong enough to lift a man bodily off the rock" and that "it took 120 hours to dress a single stone for the outside of the tower and 320 hours to dress one of the central stones. In total 5000 tons of stone were quarried and shipped"-and all by hand. It is mind-boggling stuff: you'll look at lighthouses with a new respect. --Adam Roberts --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

‘Deeply accomplished… this splendid book preserves the memory of great deeds performed in a heroic era’
Frank McLynn, Sunday Times

‘Bella Bathurst has built a lamp herself: it illuminates the work of a literary hero, a family business, a habit of mind and a Scottish period… from the summit of this first terrific book she looks to become one of the best biographers of her generation’
Andrew O’Hagan, The Times

‘An enthralling story, vivaciously recounted… These were epic and scarifying adventures, indicative of an age when the taming of nature was a philosophical given, its execution a religious passion’
Alan Taylor, Observer

‘This is a grand book doing for lighthouses what Dava Sobel’s Longitude did for marine chronometers, and doing it, if comparisons are to be made, with considerably more panache’
Nicholas Bagnall, Sunday Telegraph

From the Back Cover

'Whenever I smell salt water, I know that I am not far form one of the works of my ancestors. The Bell Rock stands monument for my grandfather, the Skerry Vhor for my Uncle Alan; and when the lights come out at sundown along the shores of Scotland, I am proud to think they burn more brightly for the genius of my father.'
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON, 1880

'Bella Bathurst has built a lamp herself: it illuminates the work of a literary hero, a family business, a habit of mind and a Scottish period… from the summit of this terrific first book she looks to become one of the best biographers of her generation.'
ANDREW O'HAGAN 'Observer'

'An enthralling story, vivaciously recounted… These were epic and scarifying adventures, indicative of an age when the taming of nature was a philosophical given, its execution a religious passion.'
ALAN TAYLOR

'A fine and scrupulous book…Robert Louis Stevenson would have relished the tale told here.'
IAN BELL 'Scotsman'

'This is a grand book doing for lighthouses what Dava Sobel's 'Longitude' did for marine chronometers, and doing it, if comparisons are to be made, with considerably more panache.'
NICHOLAS BAGNALL 'Sunday Telegraph'

'Bella Bathurst has done a marvellous and scholarly job. Robert Louis would have given her a bow on behalf of his dour ancestors.'
JOHN BAYLEY 'Evening Standard'

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Bella Bathurst is a freelance journalist whose portfolio includes work for the Observer, Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph, Independent on Sunday, Guardian, Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday. Her first book, The Lighthouse Stevensons: The Extraordinary Story of the Building of the Scottish Lighthouses by the Ancestors of Robert Louis Stevenson, was widely acclaimed. She published her first novel ‘Special’ was published in 2003.

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