The Lighthouse Stevensons Paperback – 7 Mar 2005
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I for one had no idea that the 14 lighthouses dotting the Scottish coast were all built by the same Stevenson family that produced Robert Louis Stevenson, Scotland's most famous novelist. But Bella Bathurst throws a powerful, revolving light into the darkness of this historical tradition. Robert Louis was a sickly fellow, and--unlike the rest of his strong-willed, determined family--certainly not up to the astonishing rigours of lighthouse building, all of which are vividly described here. To build these towering structures in the most inhospitable places imaginable (such as the aptly named Cape Wrath), using only 19th-century technology is an achievement that beggars belief. The comparison that comes to mind is with the pyramid building of ancient Egypt. For instance, we learn that the ground rocks for the Skerryvore lighthouse were prepared by hand (even though the "gneiss could blunt a pick in three blows") in waves and winds "strong enough to lift a man bodily off the rock" and that "it took 120 hours to dress a single stone for the outside of the tower and 320 hours to dress one of the central stones. In total 5000 tons of stone were quarried and shipped"-and all by hand. It is mind-boggling stuff: you'll look at lighthouses with a new respect. --Adam Roberts --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
‘Deeply accomplished… this splendid book preserves the memory of great deeds performed in a heroic era’
Frank McLynn, Sunday Times
‘Bella Bathurst has built a lamp herself: it illuminates the work of a literary hero, a family business, a habit of mind and a Scottish period… from the summit of this first terrific book she looks to become one of the best biographers of her generation’
Andrew O’Hagan, The Times
‘An enthralling story, vivaciously recounted… These were epic and scarifying adventures, indicative of an age when the taming of nature was a philosophical given, its execution a religious passion’
Alan Taylor, Observer
‘This is a grand book doing for lighthouses what Dava Sobel’s Longitude did for marine chronometers, and doing it, if comparisons are to be made, with considerably more panache’
Nicholas Bagnall, Sunday Telegraph
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18 January 2015
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
A good book and written with some humour too. Whilst the subject is very interesting, the method of telling does at times, get a wee bit heavy and bogged down. That said, it is still a very well written and well informed book and does still tell an amazing story of how an amazing bunch of incredibly brave and clever engineers and contractors managed to overcome the elements to provide light and safety to all at sea.
22 November 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Captivating story of how all the lighthouses were built and the families involved. Robert Louis Stevenson wanted to be a writer and he was in the end as we know. His Father wanted him to be an engineer.I would read this again and enjoy it even more. It is so interesting
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Most recent customer reviews
An engaging tale, I’ve been reading it on and off every time I visit my sister who lives in a Stevenson lighthouse.Read more
Can't imagine how Robert Louis Stevenson fitted into this family. A rivetting read
It's a good read, but not as good as Craig Mairs 1978 book " A Star for Seamen".
What a beautiful book with remarkable insights into people and times. I was given an education along with a stunning story of lighthouses.
I bought this as I did want to find out more about Robert Louis Stevenson & his family having met Alanna Knight speaking on her book Bright Ring of Words (see elsewhere on my...Read more