Sea Room (Paperback)
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Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be given your own remote islands? Thirty years ago it happened to Adam Nicolson. Aged 21, Nicolson inherited the Shiants, three lonely Hebridean islands set in a dangerous sea off the Isle of Lewis. With only a stone bothy for accommodation and half a million puffins for company, he found himself in charge of one of the most beautiful places on earth. The story of the Shiants is a story of birds and boats, hermits and fishermen, witchcraft and catastrophe, and Nicolson expertly weaves these elements into his own tale of seclusion on the Shiants to create a stirring celebration of island life.
HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
Publisher and industry reviews
'Exceptionally well done, beautifully written, personal yet panoramic' Observer 'An extraordinarily outward-looking book! a truly passionate attention to detail!. A love-letter no one else could hope to write so well.' Sunday Telegraph 'A passionate evocation, a compression of observation and anecdote which catches you up in its intelligence as well as its enthusiasm, and fill you with homesickness for a place you've never been to.' Daily Telegraph 'Generous, exuberant and a vividly written narrative!. history, travel-writing and memoir of the best sort.' Spectator 'Sharply observed, a finely written work, one to be savoured, turned over and over like a good whisky.' Sunday Times 'Palpably exciting narrative -- lyrical, compelling, earthy, always readable, and often surprising. Nicolson's book is an adventure story with Hemingway highs and is also unselfconscious, wonderfully idiosyncratic, and, above all, beautifully written.' Literary Review 'A passionate account of the Shiants with a lyricism that brings the islands to life.' Sunday Telegraph 'He conjures the numinous spirit of the place in long, lyric stretches and weaves a vivid tapestry of people and events.' Evening Standard 'A wise, witty, enlightening, enchanting book' Times Literary Supplement 'A fine storyteller' Independent on Sunday 'Beautifully written' Time Out 'Enthralling throughout' Independent 'A passionate evocation of the Shiants which catches you up in its intelligence as well as its enthusiasm, and fills you with homesickness for a place you've never been to. Nicolson writes so well, with such modesty and deep feeling, that the book fairly sings in your hands.' Daily Telegraph
UK Kirkus review
Everyone dreams of owning an island, but very few people ever do. Hollywood actors have purchased Pacific hideaways and millionaires set themselves up on outcrops in the Caribbean, but for ordinary mortals the dream usually remains unrealized. Adam Nicolson is the exception. He doesn't just own an island. He owns three. In the 1980s, aged 21, he inherited the tiny Shiants from his father, who had bought them 50 years earlier at the bargain price (even then) of ?1400. Nobody lived there, and the only dwelling was a dilapidated rat-infested house where Nicolson's wife still refuses to sleep. The Shiants are not palm-fringed and sun-soaked; they sit in the cold seas off the Outer Hebrides, and their geography is bleak. They are surrounded by mighty cliffs, home to razorbills and puffins. Seals play in the frothing seas. Yet Nicolson, like his father before him, believes they are one of the most beautiful places on the planet. The book opens defensively; Nicolson realises that absentee English landlords are not popular in the Hebrides. But he manages to convince the local Hebrideans, his readers and himself that the islands are his in name only. They are, in a sense, independent, continuing to survive in the fierce swell whoever's name is on the land deeds. With great affection and minute detail, he takes us over every nook and cranny of the islands - their unforgiving geology, their wildlife, their modest place in history and legend. Mirroring the unfolding of the islands' life is Nicolson's own personal history, from young man to husband and father. The result is a poetical, romantic homage to a remote place, told from the heart. Even if few of us can live the dream of owning our own Lilliputian kingdom, at least in this book we can read about it. Review by Dea Birkett (Kirkus UK)
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