Island of Wings Paperback – 2 Feb 2012
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'A beautiful story of love and loss, precise, subtle, spiritually alive' Andrew O'Hagan. (Andrew O'Hagan)
'Karin Altenberg's debut novel is an impressive work of research and descriptive writing about Nature and place in a second language ... a penetrating insight into the psychology of a religious zealot and a relationship rolling inevitably towards destruction' Country Life. (Country Life)
'Compelling' Daily Mail. (Daily Mail)
'This is an accomplished debut, beautiful and compelling' Good Book Guide. (Good Book Guide)
'Emotional intensity is foregrounded and the nuances of Neil and Lizzie's relationship are set out in the writing like a heart on a sleeve ... Neil's psychological flaws are convincingly drawn' Guardian. (Guardian)
'Her literary achievement is astonishing ... A superb book' Scotsman. (Scotsman)
'I was enchanted by the magic of the storytelling. This is a novelist with a future' Michael Holroyd, New Statesman. (New Statesman)
'Stunning' Guardian. (Guardian)
'This lovely, haunting novel evokes the rough beauty of St Kilda ... A story of faith and love' The Times. (The Times)
From the Back Cover
July, 1830. On the ten-hour sailing west from the Hebrides to the islands of St Kilda, everything lies ahead for Lizzie and Neil MacKenzie. Neil is to become the minister to the small community of islanders and Lizzie, his new wife, is pregnant with their first child. Neil's journey is evangelical: a testing and strengthening of his own faith against the old pagan ways of the St Kildans, but it is also a passage to atonement. For Lizzie - bright, beautiful and devoted - this is an adventure, a voyage into the unknown. As the two adjust to life on an exposed archipelago on the edge of civilization, where the natives live in squalor and babies perish mysteriously in their first week, their marriage - and their sanity - is threatened. Is Lizzie a wilful temptress drawing him away from his faith? Is Neil's zealous Christianity unhinging into madness? And who, or what, is haunting the moors and cliff-tops? Exquisitely written and profoundly moving, Island of Wings is more than just an account of a marriage in peril - it is also a richly imagined novel about two people struggling to keep their love, and their family, alive in a place of terrible hardship and tumultuous beauty.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
I love books about times, people and places who are so far removed from our own lives and times; and this book captures a time and place that is totally alien to us now, so far distant in both its own reality and its own time. A time, unfortunately, that was doomed to eventually end for those who had for centuries survived on the harsh world on the edge of the Atlantic.
A wonderful story, beautifully written; highly recommended.
I love the fact that this is an historical novel and that the stories of the characters continues after the last page.
An easy, thought provoking and thoroughly interesting read.
In short, this is a brilliant source of information,and as such, I would score it highly, but as a novel, it does not work. It does not have the emotional impact or the build up of tension needed in fiction, which is a pity.
I was not disappointed, as the story fascinated right from the first page. Both Lizzie and Neil are based on real people who actually did exist, and although much has been written about the historial Neil, little is known of his wife. This book aims to redress that imbalance, and like other books that I read that year (2011), is written much more from the female perspective.
I suppose this is what I liked about the story - the idea of this strong woman who supports her man by sailing almost to the other side of the world to live among illiterate farmers whose language she cannot even understand. During her time on the island Lizzie loses several children, and as her husband becomes more and more fervent in his faith, she feels herself gradually losing him too.
This book, although hypothetical and based only loosely on fact is still very well researched. The descriptions of the St Kildan landscape and way of life really bring the story to life, adding much more depth to what could otherwise have been a much less ordinary tale.
At times exploring his thinking, at others his wife's, it is sensitive and beautifully put together, as the minister is ground down by events and his own experiences.
A gentle but incisive look at the lives of the people on the island as it became increasingly obvious that inhabitation there was unsustainable.
The story is based, in large part, on the diaries of the minister, as well as the historical record and related diaries. This gives a depth and texture to what would otherwise have been purely fictional.
This is a gentle and fascinating book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A remarkable insight into the history of a remote island delivered via a sympathetic and compelling love story.Published 3 months ago by George D Saul
The most amazing insightful book about st Kilda and the life of the people. Just makes you want to travel to experience the island. You have to read this book.Published 5 months ago by Alison D Brady
Based on a real-life Scottish minister and his wife who came to serve in the remote outpost of St Kilda in 1830, this is an eminently readable work, exposing the reader to the... Read morePublished 6 months ago by sally tarbox
This is a wonderfully evocative book, based around the true tenure of the minister of the Church sent to the islands of St Kilda, Neil MacKenzie and his wife, in 1830. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Keen Reader
It was an interesting idea to base the story on the real Neil McKenzie - and learning about the St Kilda islanders made fascinating reading. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Reviewer
This book sums up what life was like for the St Kildans in the 1800s and not much different when they left in 1930Published 13 months ago by Heather Johnson