For an eleven-year-old boy, living with his widowed mother and younger brother in a remote seaside village on one of the Western Isles of Scotland, growing up has its difficulties, as well as its idyllic pleasures. Iain Crichton Smith's vivid evocation is loosely based on memories of his own childhood on Lewis. There are so many discoveries to be made, along the shore and on the moor. Crossing a field under snow has its perils; exploring an empty cottage has its imaginative terrors; you might be humiliated by a village woman when your mother has sent you to a neighbour to borrow half-a-crown until her pension comes through: or playing along the shore with Pauline, a visitor from London with her wider knowledge of the world, you might find your own certainties called into question. There is poverty and richness; and eventually the war casts its shadows across your world. Iain Crichton Smith has brought to life a gallery of distinctly memorable figures: the sure-footed Blinder with his amazing sense of the island terrain; Stork with his wooden leg; Speedy, the reluctant footballer; Jim returned after twenty years in America with such stories ... The author's own sense of the terrain, and of the characters who inhabit it, is equally sure and beautifully precise; his book will evoke for all ages the inner-emotions of growing up, as well as the outward sights and scents of an island experience.
On the Island