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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 23 October 2001
Having read 'Perch Hill', I knew that I could expect 'Sea Room' to provide a real sense of place and be written with love and attention to detail.
Being a regular visitor to the Hebrides, but not for some years, this has provided me with the incentive to return as soon as possible. I am not a sailor, but can appreciate the sense of apprehension the author describes on the first solo crossing to the islands.
This is an excellent book, and was a welcome companion on a lengthy wait for a train at Durham station.
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on 5 March 2015
Adam Nicholson intertwines history, geology, nature and much more in the story of his love for the Shiant Isles. I was gripped by this book's evocation of the place, each time I had to put it down to do other things, I couldn't wait to pick it up again and read on. Regardless of what you might feel about Scottish Islands being owned by English landlords, there is no doubting his genuine depth of feeling for the place.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
...Adam is owner of these roughly six hundred acres distributed over three wave and wind ravaged islands in the Minch, that stretch of ocean lying between the Scottish island of Skye and the Outer Hebrides. Adam had inherited them from his father, who purchased them in 1937.
The author does indeed examine every fact and detail that can be known or surmised about this edge on civilization's margin: the art of getting there by small boat, the migratory bird life, its human history as revealed by archeology and public records, its geology, its successive native industries over the centuries (farming, fishing, kelping, sheepherding), and its weather. Occasionally, there's unintended humor, as when he describes the labors involved in transferring some cattle off the island by coastal steamer...
Most of SEA ROOM is a sober narrative about ordinary life on, and the ecosystem of, the Shiants - ordinary with a capital "O". After all, through the centuries no more than perhaps thirty people have called the islands home at any one time. It was never the site of a great city, or the center of an empire, or the scene of heroic accomplishment beyond just making a life in a remote and inhospitable place. Indeed, the Shiants have lacked permanent human residents for the past hundred years. Thus, while Nicolson's magnificent prose makes the story reasonably interesting, it wasn't enough to earn more than four stars in my opinion ... that is, until the concluding chapter. It's because of these last pages, a heartfelt and poignant manifesto of the author's great and consuming love for this far-flung spot, a legacy for his son Tom, that I finally awarded five stars for the whole...
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I'm enjoying this book very much, an engaging journey around this Scottish isles, when one might think there wasn't that much to say. But Nicolson as often is the case, makes it very readable and personable. Helps calm the mind as well.
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on 16 January 2015
This is a book by a man who owned Shiants, he son probably now owns it. The islands are fascinating but the writing is superb - a chapter about geology is poetic. It will be read time and time again.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 30 August 2003
I loved this book on first reading, enjoyed the passion of the author in delving into the history and natural history of his island, was caught up in his local narratives and documented history, wanted to go and see it - but on second reading, began to wonder: this is a very personal book about a small part of Scotland by a rich English bloke, who, although he acknowledges it time and time again, is actually an absentee landlord, writing an account of a particularly eccentric holiday home.
I suppose that the fact that I went back a third time, even explored the website, is a tribute to Adam Nicolson's storytelling ability, the knack of involving the reader in this wild and unique world. A cautious four stars, then, maybe even a grudging four stars, but this book is well worth looking at.
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on 25 May 2015
A good book , good descriptions of the scenery ,beaches and rock formations. A little too long ,for me, in some of the philosophical ideas , but overall I recommend it as a nature type .
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 30 May 2013
Moderately interesting topic, well written and definitely well worth getting a second-hand copy. Good for social background of these three tiny islands.
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on 5 September 2014
Great book about a magical location and view on a lost island life.
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on 11 February 2015
Great story, paints images in your mind of this amazing seascape!
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