3 out of 5 stars
After a burglary, Tamsin Calidas and her husband decided that they had had enough of London and headed north to a remote island in the Scottish Hebrides. They were turning their back on the city life and high paying careers their new home was to be a semi-derelict croft. They intended to renovate it whilst living in a small caravan.
It was idyllic at first, it is a beautiful part of the world up there. They bought some animals and made progress on the property. Their neighbours were fairly cool about them being there, implying that there had been someone else that the plot was reserved for, and rather than making friends they were having to defend their right to be there. It wasn’t the best place to be as she began to feel more and more isolated.
She longed for children and had reached to point where they needed to start the IVF treatments, quite a stressful process at the best of times, but this was enhanced given their remoteness from hospitals that could carry out those procedures. It was to be one of the things that did for her marriage too. Soon she is left alone on the island, with two broken hands after an accident and a separate incident.
All of this, as well as trying to run the croft on her own, was to push her to the very edge of the abyss.
In the current pandemic, moving to a Scottish Island well away from anyone else does have quite a lot of appeal. It is not your classic relocation book where the photogenic couple move to a beautiful part of the country, make lots of friends and reinvent their lives in a positive way and change the stresses of city life to a productive and creative life. This is very much darker, she is assaulted and subject to the overt and covert hostility of the locals to the croft that she is living in. The middle section of the book is emotionally quite raw and makes for pretty grim reading.
The final part of the book did rescue it a little, she looks to the more elemental parts of the natural world to sustain and nourish her mental health and at times her writing can be quite lyrical and poetic. However, the book has caused some controversy with the people that she shares the island with, who have a different take on the events mentioned, so I am not sure if she will be staying there much longer!