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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lost classic, 23 May 2011
This review is from: Island Years, Island Farm (Paperback)
In the years immediately prior to WWII, the naturalist Fraser Darling spent three years camping with his wife and young son on a series of otherwise uninhabited Hebridean islands while he studied the wildlife.
Most of his other books were much more scientific in nature, while Island Years is more accessible, a blend of nature writing with an account of how they lived their day-to-day lives on these remote and isolated islands.
I first bought Island Years when it was last published - in 1973 when I was 13 years old. It had a great impact on me then and is a book I have returned to again and again over the years. It is a lost classic of nature writing and it is fantastic to see it back in print again at last.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a story about another age, 1 Feb 2012
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This review is from: Island Years, Island Farm (Paperback)
This is a book (actually 2 books published as one) by a eccentric Englishman, who drags his long-suffering wife and child to live on a series of otherwise deserted Scottish islands, in the 1940s. I came across it whilst in Scotland, but could not actually buy it there. Fortunately Amazon were able to supply, and I enjoyed reading about his life. He was doing research into local wildlife, and also wanted to show how these inhospitable areas could, with the right care, produce good food (his contribution to the war effort). The book describes some of his scientific observations, but is mostly a charming and often funny story of the joys and heart aches of someone who dared to do something out of the ordinary.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars pie in ear?, 6 Feb 2012
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gille liath (US of K) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Island Years, Island Farm (Paperback)
Seminal Highland ecologist? Pioneer of self-sufficiency (and particularly its literature)? Or was Fraser Darling fundamentally just a person who couldn't stand being around other people, and who felt he had to justify his desire to get away by doing scientific work? Without going all psycho-babble, it's interesting that he ran away from home as a lad; he doesn't mention his family other than his wife and son - and even they, when push comes to shove, seem to take second place behind his work interests.

A lot of us will find it frustrating to read a book like this, wondering why we can't live the same idyllic Hebridean life. But (besides that fact that it all happend 70 years ago, when the world was less strangled by bureaucracy) Darling had three things that a lot of us don't: a very single-minded, ruthless determination; a relevant trade, in fact two (farmer and naturalist); and most important of all, useful connections. Furthermore, having achieved his 'island farm', his life's ambition, he didn't stick it out: a few years later he was off to Africa as an agricultural adviser.

I've waited a long time to find this book, which for years was out of print. He's a decent writer, especially for someone with no background in the art - yet I feel there's a certain detachment about the work. He doesn't go into great detail about anything; it's all very impressionistic. There are moments of great beauty and insight but, in all, I found it a little frustrating. It would be interesting to read a biography of this obviously complex character, written by someone else.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A replacement for the original= purchased in an antique shop in Edinburgh- but= borrowed and not returned, 16 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Island Years, Island Farm (Paperback)
Just glad to get an old friend back. and interesting to see his son has taken on the job.and did it well.
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Island Years, Island Farm
Island Years, Island Farm by Frank Fraser Darling (Paperback - 20 May 2011)
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