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The Lost Lights of St Kilda: 'Desperately…
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The Lost Lights of St Kilda: 'Desperately romantic, lyrically written and… (edição: 2020)

de Elisabeth Gifford (Autor)

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295665,348 (3.85)1
Membro:linda.a.
Título:The Lost Lights of St Kilda: 'Desperately romantic, lyrically written and with a fascinating plot' Katie Fforde
Autores:Elisabeth Gifford (Autor)
Informação:Corvus (2020)
Coleções:Sua biblioteca
Avaliação:*****
Etiquetas:Nenhum(a)

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The Lost Lights of St Kilda de Elisabeth Gifford

Adicionado recentemente porsoffitta1, JanieA, Huffpuff333, chive, tweedyisland, bellwoods
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Exibindo 5 de 5
Told in two timelines, 1927 and 1940, this a story of love – between two people, and for an island and an endangered way of life. In ‘The Lost Lights of St Kilda’ by Elisabeth Gifford, the beautiful yet harsh landscape of the island is made vividly alive. This is a delight to read, a novel about love, trust, betrayal and forgiveness.
In 1940 Fred Lawson, a Scottish soldier from the 51st Highland Division, is imprisoned at Tournai, captured at St Valery in retreat as other soldiers were being evacuated at Dunkirk. Through the darkest moments of fighting, his memories of St Kilda sustain him. ‘It was your face that had stayed with me as we fought in France. It was you who’d sustained me when we were hungry and without sleep for nights as we fought the retreating action back towards the Normandy coast.’ Fred escapes and heads for Spain, forced to trust strangers, not knowing who is a friend and who is an informer, but drawn on by his memories of St Kilda.
At the same moment in Scotland, a teenage daughter longs to know more of her birth. Says Rachel Anne, ‘My mother says I am her whole, world, and she is mine, but all the same I would still like to know at least the name of my father.’
In 1927, geology student Fred travels to the remote Scottish island of St Kilda with his university friend Archie Macleod whose father owns the island. No one knows that three years later the island will be abandoned, the population on the edge of starvation. Archie, the laird’s son, has a privileged position on the island. As a teenage boy he played with the island children, play acting at the work their fathers do, learning their future trades – farming, catching puffins and fulmars – on the dangerous cliffs. And he flirts with Chrissie Gillies. But by the time Archie returns to the island in 1927 with Fred, he has developed an arrogance and a liking for whisky. Over the long summer months, Fred falls in love with the island and with Chrissie. Everything changes when tragedy strikes.
This is a beautiful read, contrasting the softness and closeness of romance with the harsh facts of life as the difficulties of island survival are laid bare. Life in the summer months seems an idyll of isolation and peace, a return to the basics of life that matter. But inevitably winter approaches and, as the real world is complicated, a misunderstanding occurs. But hope is never abandoned. Despite being separated by the years and by lies, Fred and Chrissie never forget each other.
Read more of my book reviews at http://www.sandradanby.com/book-reviews-a-z/ ( )
  Sandradan1 | Jun 12, 2020 |
I have very fond memories of Elisabeth Gifford's first book, Secrets of the Sea House. That was a dual timeframe story with a similar setting to The Lost Lights of St Kilda, that being the islands of Scotland.

In The Lost Lights… the two aspects of the story take place quite close together, in 1927 and 1940. The earlier story is set on St Kilda, a very isolated island where the villagers are far from thriving. They are largely forgotten, even the mail ship doesn't stop there. Fred Lawson and Archie Macleod visit one summer and Fred is captivated by Chrissie, a young islander. But the path of love does not run smoothly for them. We see events from Fred's point of view and from Chrissie's.

Then in 1940 Fred is in France during WWII, one of the Cameron Highlanders. We witness his daring attempts at escape but what it also gives him is a reason to live and to try and return to Chrissie.

This is a beautifully written, lyrical and lilting novel. I'm always so drawn to island stories, especially Scottish islands. I think there's a romantic feel to the windswept, stark nature of them, although in reality it's far from perfect and is often such a difficult life. Elisabeth Gifford puts across perfectly the difficulties that the St Kildans faced and she's obviously done a lot of research into the island and the people who called it their home. Their plight in having to leave is plain to see.

This is not a quick or fast paced read and I didn't always find it the easiest of reads as it's quite intense, but it's full of atmosphere and is such a moving story. It's a book to savour as the setting draws the reader in and the sparse but poetic writing put me right there, whether it be on St Kilda or in France. It's ultimately the unfolding of a love story over a number of years but it's just as much a love letter to St Kilda too. ( )
  nicx27 | Mar 14, 2020 |
This book perfectly evokes the final few years of island life on St Kilda, in the Outer Hebrides. It really captures the bleak and haunting beauty of this landscape and captures the disappearing way of life. Set from the 1920s to 1940s, it’s the love story of local girl Chrissie and Cambridge undergraduate Fred; they fall in love but fate keeps intervening to keep them apart. Can even prisoner of war camps and mass evacuations, though, get in the way of true love forever? The poetic book alternates between different perspectives, allowing them all to develop. There are no major twists or turns to the plot, but fans of historical fiction definitely won’t be disappointed. It’s a lovely story and one that I would recommend. ( )
  liccyh | Mar 7, 2020 |
I really enjoyed the writing style of this book. It was easy to follow and get sucked in to the plot that I read way more than I thought I did in each sitting.
There are two main perspectives, of Chrissie and Fred, and they alternate through times of when the first met and their lives later.

My favourite part of the story was the time spent on the island. I loved the descriptions of where and how they lived. It felt so real and I think that’s what made this story so powerful. The vivid and haunting moments, the difficult lifestyle and daily routines, made the story feel so alive and you can picture how they felt.

Overall, I thorougly enjoyed the book and would definitely recommend it, but I would have liked the characters to have more interactions and communicate more. It was a bit frustrating how much they were just keeping to themselves. ( )
  kora3 | Mar 5, 2020 |
In 1927 two young undergraduates from Cambridge spend the summer working on St Kilda, one is Fred Lawson and the other is his friend, and the laird’s son, Archie Macleod. During his time there Fred falls in love not only with the island, but with Chrissie, a young islander. Little does Fred know that only three years later this wild, isolated and beautiful island would need to be evacuated because, following yet another harsh winter when supply boats were unable to reach the island, all the islanders would be close to death from starvation. Although a misunderstanding meant that he lost contact with Chrissie after that summer, he never forgot either her or the summer he spent on the island and in 1940, when he is a prisoner of war behind enemy lines in France, his memories of that time, and of the woman he had loved and lost, become ever more vivid. Following a daring escape he faces a dangerous journey across occupied territory to reach a neutral country and freedom. The one thought which sustains him throughout all the hardships he faces is that he must find his way back to Chrissie, to find out if, after all these years apart, there is any possibility of a future together.
With the timeline switching between 1910-1930 on St Kilda, 1930-1940 on Morvern Peninsular on the west coast of Scotland, and 1940 in occupied France, and the narrative switching between the voices of Chrissie, her daughter Rachel Anne, and Fred, this is a compelling and beautifully written novel. The gradually unfolding love story which underpins Chrissie and Fred’s relationship feels both convincing and very poignant, but it is matched by a parallel love story, the one symbolising how the islanders felt about St Kilda and for a way of life which was so precious to them. In many ways this felt like paean not just to a wildly beautiful place, but also to the loss of a unique community.
The constantly changing timelines never felt confusing, instead they were used in an assured way to effectively weave the different strands of the story together, gradually adding depth to the developing storyline. I felt drawn into the unique way of life of the islanders of this remote community, with all the pride they took in the skills they had developed to endure the privations and challenges they faced, and with the powerful sense of community which had evolved in order to ensure mutual support. The landscapes of the islands and of war-torn France, were each very vividly and convincingly described. However, for me it was the author’s evocative descriptions of the savage beauty and wildness of the storm-battered islands, the powerful ocean, the pounding waves against the steep sea cliffs and the vast colonies of noisy sea-birds nesting on them which felt the more powerful, making me feel that I was experiencing something of that wild beauty for myself.
Before I read this story I had always thought that St Kilda was the name of the inhabited island but, as I discovered, that’s the collective name for this archipelago and the name of the main island is Hirta. Although I was aware of the fact that the island had been evacuated in 1930, one of the things I enjoyed most about this story was how much I learnt about what led up to that momentous event, putting it into an historical and social context. I hadn’t realised how significant a part WWI had played in the gradual decline of the island’s population when, not only had the young men gone off to war but, with the archipelago being the most westerly islands of the UK, they had a vitally important military significance. As a result, the Royal Navy established a manned signal station on Hirta in the early years of the war and with this came not only more regular and reliable contact with the outside world for the islanders, but also more reliable access to essential supplies and the gradual establishment of a money-based economy. This slightly easier way of life during the war-time period probably undermined self-reliance to some degree, something compounded by the fact that many young men didn’t return to the island after the war; some had been killed but for those who did survive, returning to a life of hardship held little appeal. This growing realisation that they didn’t have to put up with living such a precarious existence then led to a steady exodus of young people from the island, with the population falling from seventy-three in 1920 to just thirty-six when, following successive crop failures and a particularly harsh winter, in August 1930 everyone on the island agreed to be evacuated to Morvern.
The author’s gradual revelations of the events which led up to this momentous event very effectively captured the islanders’ sense of despair about the loss of their unique way of life, which however unsustainable it had by then become, had nurtured them for generations and was all they knew. She also demonstrated how tourism, whilst providing a source of income for the islanders – from the sale of their homemade tweed and birds’ eggs – also did much to undermine their self-confidence, as the visitors, seeing their simple, unsophisticated way of life and the identical nature of their dress, portraying them as objects of derision and curiosity, almost as though they were exotic exhibits rather than fellow human beings. As a result of all these insights, she enabled me to empathise with the profound sadness of their loss, as well as their fears and anxieties about what the future held for them.
Days after finishing this deeply moving story, written with such a simple yet lyrical prose, I still feel haunted by it and cannot imagine anyone being able to read it without being similarly affected. This is the first of Elisabeth Gifford’s books I’ve read but, with writing of this quality, and her ability to create such unforgettable characters, I now want to read some of her earlier novels. ( )
  linda.a. | Nov 10, 2019 |
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