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Island of Dreams: A Personal History of a Remarkable Place Paperback – 7 Apr 2016

4.6 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Main Market Ed. edition (7 April 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1509800778
  • ISBN-13: 978-1509800773
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 227,978 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

Evocative. . .A lively, often funny tribute to the place and to the people he meets there. . .Island of Dreams shows him emerging from the shadow of his hero to become a gifted writer himself (Daily Mail)

Enigmatic yet compelling . . . The book returned me to an adolescent passion for Maxwell's Ring of Bright Water (Katharine Norbury Guardian)

I was gripped from start to finish by Dan Boothby's ISLAND OF DREAMS. . . Never overdone, pretentious, self-absorbed or sentimental, it is written with skill and expertise with all the conviction and authority it needs to enthrall. The descriptive passages are traced with deep sensitivity and richly evocative of people, turning seasons, the loneliness of island life, and the enticing contours of the location. This is a fitting and poignant tribute to the enduring value of the Ring of Bright Water Trilogy, written as a personal quest of devotion and discovery. Boothby's disarmingly personal approach draws you into the thrall and mystique of Maxwell's literary landscape by revealing as much about the writer's self as weaving a love-spell to the island and its ghosts (Miriam Darlington, author of OTTER COUNTRY)

Island of Dreams, like its inspiration Raven Seek Thy Brother, becomes an elegy - not for a lost way of life, but for a dream tenaciously pursued and regretfully abandoned (Ariane Bankes Literary Review)

This lovely book offers an elliptical portrait of the enigmatic Gavin Maxwell, and an equally elliptical portrait of its author. A delightful meditation on the impossibility of really knowing anyone, not least ourselves. (Katharine Norbury, author of THE FISH LADDER)

Boothby is entranced by Gavin Maxwell, not because of otters, nor through any overt kinship with the boys who shared the writer's odd life, but because Maxwell seemed always to occupy the debatable lands between the self one knows, the self that is reflected in others and the self that only exists in the act of writing. . .The message - one message - of this remarkable, deceptive book is that not much stays, in any state, and that belonging, like ownership, is only ever partial and never-finished (National)

The writing is as crisp as the coastal air, shot through with the humour of humanity and bright animal magic (Saga)

Book Description

A deeply personal memoir about the search for home.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you're a fan of Gavin Maxwell and enjoyed his books about his time on Skye, you'll enjoy this book as it carries on where Maxwell left off. Boothby's style is entertaining and delightfully 21st century as opposed to Maxwell's quite dated 20th century writing stylr.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Love this man's style of prose. Easy to read. His enchantment with this small but beautiful island sparks echoes from my own, all too short, visits. Love his insight into the 5 levels of a highland community, so very true! Poignant, insightful, truthful. Well done Dan!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An excellent book, well researched.. It is a book haunted by the spectre of Gavin Maxwell. For those of us who are Maxwell fans is is a revelation. athe author deserves praise.
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Format: Hardcover
Island of Dreams is an account of Dan Boothby’s time as an unpaid volunteer warden on Kyleakin Lighthouse Island, a former home of the famous writer Gavin Maxwell, author of Ring of Bright Water and other books.

The lighthouse is no longer a lighthouse, and the island is barely an island – it serves as a foot of the Skye Bridge between Kyleakin and Kyle of Lochalsh. Boothby has been fascinated by the life and works of Gavin Maxwell since he was young, so when he was given the chance to live on the island, he couldn’t resist the opportunity to walk in the man’s footsteps, but at times reading this book you get the feeling that the footsteps are faint and the trail is cold.

There is a tremendous sense of melancholy throughout the book, aided in part by the depiction of the almost constant Inner Hebridean rain, but mostly coming from Boothby’s attempts to connect with the past while living in a run-down, derelict present. The spectre of death hangs over the book, to the extent that the depiction of a funeral about half-way through fits in with the tone of the book as a whole.
He weaves accounts of Maxwell’s life through the book, tying in his growing understanding of this complicated and infuriating man as he spends more and more time on the island. These accounts are fascinating, but if you want a complete biography of Maxwell, look elsewhere.

But I have to admit, I’ve never been particularly interested in Maxwell anyway. Probably unlike most people, that’s not why I picked up this book.

I grew up on Skye, just a few miles from where Boothby worked. I’ve never seen the Skye Bridge – when I lived there in the 80s, you still had to get the ferry from Kyle of Lochalsh to Kyleakin.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This kind of book is not usually what I would read, but for some reason seeing the cover piqued my interest. maybe it was because of the otter on it having just seen one on our land for the first time! I decided to take the risk and purchase the book on a whim and was very glad that I did! The author's easy but extremely descriptive style drew me completely into the many strands woven into his story, how he became besotted with the island, with its natural rugged beauty, its links with his boyhood hero, Maxwell, and offering the chance to find somewhere he felt he belonged.
After finishing the book I had a feeling of sadness that the island hadn't completely fulfilled the author's hopes and desires.
In Welsh there is a word, Hiraeth, which literally translated means homesickness, but in another form, Hiraethau, means 'grief or sorrow after the lost or departed', 'longing', 'yearning', 'nostalgia', 'wistfulness' and 'earnest desire'. These words to me sum up the book.
I hope the author eventually finds what he is looking for, somewhere to settle and call home, a sense of belonging.
Whatever happens in the future though, keep writing!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Here is a pleasant story. My point of view for what it's worth is the author's impression of Gavin Maxwell acted as a catalyst to this book. The author's own experiences are well written, and sometimes moving... I remember the delicate way he told the story of buying the dinghy and the outboard motor, in particular. Perhaps, it would have been better to have left out the back history about Maxwell, and stuck to his own story because it is a joy to read. There's enough about Maxwell elsewhere. Hopefully, this is the first of many books, and Dan Boothby will have gained the confidence in his own voice, rather than imagining he needs the help of another. I was also intrigued to read this book described as a work of "creative non-fiction"... a new way of saying 'true story'.
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Format: Kindle Edition
My husband bought this book for me for Christmas and I started reading it after the Christmas meal and finished reading it by the end of Boxing Day. I couldn't put it down. OK, I did have a connection to Eilean Ban and I am also a Maxwell fan but Dan writes with such clarity of feeling that you are there along with him as he walks around the island, feeling the wind and rain or soaking up the atmosphere inside the house where Maxwell, and later Dan, lived for a time. Yes, there have been other books on Maxwell but this one tries to understand a little more about a very complicated character by being where he was and seeing what he saw. Dan's descriptive writing shows some of the same enthusiasm Maxwell had for wildlife while drawing you into his own story. I look forward to his next book.
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