Most helpful positive review
38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
An excellent work
on 7 December 2001
This is a magnificent book, beautifully written with many excellent illustrations, likely to be the definitive volume on the Shiant Islands for years to come. More, it provides the benchmark for what is required for a study of all Scotland's outlying islands; all previous studies will be found wanting after this exemplary model.
The book consists of sixteen chapters fundamentally dealing with the geology, wildlife and archareology of three uninhabited islands lying five miles or so off the coast of Lewis. But this is no dry history. The back cloth is a dazzling concentration of towering basaltic cliffs, crowds of guillemots, razorbills, great skuas and 240,000 puffins; the violence and danger of the surrounding seas; the songs and verse which encapsulate former island life, accounts of attempted murder, witchcraft and catastrophe and the treasured place the Shiants still hold in the Hebridean mind. The stage is a microcosm of richness: Bronze Age gold, the memory of sea eagles, an 8th century hermit and his carved stone pillow, memories of cruel clearances soaked up by the landscape and tales passed down from generation to generation.
This is not another 'happy-clappy' saga written by a romantic, weekend recluse but a powerful baring of the soul by a man who has earned the admiration and friendship of his fellow islanders intertwined with his love of the past and a deep understanding of the rocks from which these islands have been hewn. For the first time since he inherited the Shiants from his father twenty years ago, Adam Nicolson tells the full story of his own experiences there in a style no other writer of the Hebrides has ever attempted before or since.
Overall SEA ROOM is a stimulating book and one I read pleasurably and admiringly from cover to cover, non-stop. For this well written, well researched and scholarly work, Adam Nicolson has placed all students of the Hebrides in his debt. It deserves to be read by all involved in the contemporary study of Scottish life.