Waterstones in #Kirkcaldy had become my regular haunt of mine over the winter. I am reading more paperbacks, rather than books on Kindle, because of my RSI problem, which I am managing relatively well now.
I was browsing on Waterstone’s ‘Buy 1 Get 1 Half Price‘ tables and stumbled upon ‘Little Wing‘ by Freya North. I found the title intriguing, followed by the name of the author ‘North’, and wondered if it is Freya’s real name. Then it was the cover which spoke immediately of Western Scotland, or even the Outer Hebrides. I was not wrong. On reading the blurb next, it pointed in that direction. The novel was clearly set in three different time zones and just looked my kind of book.
Did I feel empathy to any particular character?
I felt particular empathy to Nell (2005) who was working in a café, where the employees needed support in order to fulfil their amazing roles. I am a great believer in folks being allowed, with loving and caring guidance, to reach their potential. Nell was an extra special person and I identified with her patience and fondness for her charges, but also with her at the moment when her life was ‘turned upside down’ by a discovery about herself. As far as I know this hasn’t happened to me, but I warmed to her quest and also to her eventual feeling of belonging in the Outer Hebrides.
Is there a lasting thought or memory from the book which remains with you long after the novel is finished?
Having visited Harris and Lewis, and also having relocated to Scotland from Bedfordshire myself, I can visualise Nell and even Florence (1969) and their sense of belonging to what might appear initially to be a bleak and distant place. I can easily imagine the girls walking on the machair, along the sandy beaches, picking up pebbles and shells and watching the seals. I can feel the warmth of the folk she met and their desire to make her feel welcome; one of them even.
It was a great book and I might even keep it and read it again one day, (which is an unusual high accolade from me) maybe when we are travelling further north once more.
Today I am reviving my monthly book review, but this time I will post it on my blog before adding it to my rolling reviews on my Book of the Month Page.
Why did I choose this book?
I was drawn to Secrets of the Sea because:
I have visited Harris, Lewis and Uist and was drawn to the landscape; wild and rugged in contrast to the great expanse of machair, with wild flowers almost hidden by flowing grasses, a reflection of the sea and long sandy beaches.
I enjoy historical fiction and yet …
I also love reading novels in parallel time scales. I love the way they are woven to overlap and yet they are two stories in one, bringing history into the present day.
I have been inspired by local folklore in Scotland and Selkies intrigue me!
Did you feel empathy with any particular character?
Oh yes. Ruth’s struggles to shed her past memories. Memories are a bit like witness statements ~ it’s surprising how inaccurate they can be, especially those from childhood, and yet Ruth has resilience and a good man watching out for her.
Is there a lasting thought or memory of the book which remains with you?
Oh yes. I want to know more about the research and history behind the theory of where Selkies come from and I yearn to visit the islands again, especially Harris, North Uist and Benbecula, which we visited only briefly. I need more time to explore and absorb the essence of those places.
Having just returned from a memorable trip to the Outer Hebrides ~ the island of Barra via Oban, then on to South Uist and back from Lochboisdale to Mallaig ~ I am excited to share with you Pauline Prior – Pitt.
I bought ‘be an angel’ in the new Kildonan Centre. This is an interesting and thoughtfully displayed museum, where you could while away a morning reading the detailed boards alongside displays of artifacts and memorabilia. There’s a coffee shop for fresh lunches, soup, cakes, scones or just tea or coffee and also a local arts and crafts shop, where I bought ‘be an angel’.
I leafed through a couple of poems in the shop and was struck immediately by the notions ‘Pauline knows me personally! How did she know that? She has an amazing ability to describe, word for word, what goes on in my home, my relationships and in the depths of my mind in such a succinct but powerful way. There are some surprises however and twists at the end. Pauline seems to grip the heart of every conceivable human emotion ~ especially women’s.
I cannot quote a poem in case of infringing copyright but some of the titles may give you a taste of Pauline Prior-Pitt’s humour, as well as her understanding of humanity:
Leaving South Uist
be an angel, amnesia, sisterhood, together, crumbs, company of women, just, and when, a woman’s prayer …