This is a wonderfully atmospheric book, and a most unusual one, mingling stories, legends, evocative places, poems, description, customs and beautiful pictures into a marvellous whole which represents the Orkney Islands better than any other book I know. The writer was George Mackay Brown and the excellent illustrator Sylvia Wishart, whose black and white drawings add a great deal to the book's appeal. It was the book which drew the composer Peter Maxwell Davies to the Islands - eventually he bought a house there, at Rackwick Bay on Hoy, leading to well over twenty years of productive islands-based work and the foundation of the St. Magnus Festival. It somehow catches the presence and the spirit of the Islands, so that you are there even as you read it on Mainland Scotland, or mainland anywhere for that matter. It bears rereading well, and every time there is something new in it. Actually, it's quite a difficult book to describe, and it occurs to me that the title word, 'Tapestry', is just about perfect - a beautiful and complex whole woven out of many harmonious strands. It is a wonderful book.
There's surely no better guide to any area, perhaps especially a small group of islands, than a poet who has lived there nearly all his life, and knows the people and their history like his own. I plan to make my first visit to Orkney next month, to listen to music at the festival George Mackay Brown helped to start, and to use this book as a main handbook to the place. Out of print, apparently. Time it was republished.