Poignant parallels – leaving your island home

It was not until I was talking to islanders about my novel Riduna that I realised that the deep routed emotions Harriet (the main heroine in my novel) experienced on leaving the island of her birth for the first time, are as pertinent today as they were in Harriet’s day back in the late 19th Century. In this, my first novel, I almost see Riduna as another character; beautiful, compelling and unique.

                For those of you for whom this is your first time reading my blog, I must first explain that ‘Riduna’ is the Roman name for the Channel Island of Alderney. I chose the name ‘Riduna’ for the place on which the main part of my novel is set, because I felt it sounded magical and a touch romantic, just like the novel itself. Set in the 19th Century, I wished to distance my writing from the tragic, but more famous period in the island of Alderney’s history, when it was occupied during WW2 but, unlike Guernsey and Jersey, it was also evacuated almost totally.

                Leaving the place of your birth can be traumatic in itself, but being forced to leave an island, the only place you have ever known, can be heart rendering, and it’s no surprise that many return, or feel drawn to visit as often as they can.

                Last October following our visit, I was so overwhelmed by the feeling of loss when the plane took off from the little airfield that I strained to look back towards the familiar but beautiful shape of Alderney. As it gradually disappeared, I even shed a few tears. Looking up, I caught the gaze of a young girl in her early twenties also with moist eyes, and our smiles shared a moment of quiet empathy.

                There is a lady follower on twitter who was born on Alderney but now lives in Canada. She tweeted recently:

‘You can take the girl out of the island but you can’t take the island out of the girl!’

I was not born on Alderney, but even so, my family history on the island has an irrational pull for me, which is hard to explain. If you are a Ridunian living abroad and these words evoke similar emotions, I would love to hear from you!

© Diana Jackson 07/03/2011

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6 Comments

Filed under Alderney, History of Alderney

6 responses to “Poignant parallels – leaving your island home

  1. Vic Petit

    My dad was one of the children evacuated in WW2 from Alderney Diana. He had to look after his young sister on the journey and was told not to let them be separated. It left a huge mark on him. The thing that really came over when he finally started to open up about that time to us, was the vivid recollection he had of the sky going black with the smoke blowing across from France as a result of the German’s burning places as part of their advance. He really painted a picture of horror and it had a massive effect on him. Apart from a couple of years national service in the RAF in Singapore he lived all his life back on Alderney. If he came to see us in Jersey, much as he liked the island, you could tell he was anxious to get back to Alderney. We used to say that he clung to the island like a limpet!

  2. Oh Vic. You have quite a family life story to tell. It is hard for us to try to imagine what your dad must have felt at that time. Thanks so much for sharing this. all the best
    Diana

  3. Frothy43 Loving Life
    @ @Riduna Aaah, you are making me homesick now…….

  4. The island lives inside you wherever you may be. It’s having a picture of Alderney on my desk that keeps me going through tough days. All the best and thanks

  5. purplewitchyyc

    Took a while before I read this post lol
    So true tho, I finally got around to creating a photo album of Alderney pictures, most don’t mean anything to those who have never lived there yet they all think the island is beautiful.

    • Glad you stopped by. I’m always sharing photos of Alderney with friends who know about Guernsey and Jersey and even know Sark
      ‘that’s the place where there are no cars, just horses isn’t it, does Alderney have cars?’
      but they know little about Alderney. It has a beauty of its own. A friend of mine on the island keeps telling me off for sounding like a holiday brochure, hence my blog about communication and transport to redress the balance a little.
      All the best
      Diana

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