In an old wooden sloop, Philip Marsden plots a course north from his home in Cornwall. He is sailing for the Summer Isles, a small archipelago near the top of Scotland that holds for him a deep and personal significance. On the way, he must navigate the west coast of Ireland and the Inner Hebrides. Bearing the full force of the Atlantic, it is a seaboard which is also a mythical frontier, a place as rich in story as anywhere on earth.
Through the people he meets and the tales he uncovers, Marsden builds up a haunting picture of these shores - of imaginary islands and the Celtic otherworld, of the ageless draw of the west, of the life of the sea and perennial loss - and the redemptive power of the imagination.
Exhilarating and poignant, Marsden's prose has been widely praised. Bringing together themes he has been pursuing for many years, The Summer Isles is an unforgettable account of the search for actual places, invented places, and those places in between that shape the lives of individuals and entire nations.
Publisher: Granta Books
Number of pages: 352
Weight: 530 g
Dimensions: 240 x 159 x 28 mm
The Summer Isles is a gazetteer of toponyms that conjure a scintillating watery world
Marsden brings characteristic elegance and insatiable curiosity to bear on his voyage; we are whisked along as passengers, alternately enchanted by this unforgettable coastline and apprehensive of its treachery. Even the most dogged land lubber cannot fail to be exhilarated by these stiff salt breezes
A truly remarkable writer
Reading Philip Marsden's voyage to the Summer Isles is the only time in my life I shall want to be lost at sea. Shimmering, profound, and deeply mesmerizing
Set sail on limpid prose in this wonderful peregrination up the west coast of Britain and Ireland. There is no better guide to the deep and dazzling meanings found on the western fringe of Europe than Philip Marsden'
His ambitious route takes him up the west coast of Ireland where his passion for Celtic mythology and the Irish language has full play. This long summer's voyage is as thickly littered with poets and singers as with rocks and headlands, and only the weather proves unaccommodating
[Marsden] writes beautifully...In these islands at the edge of the Atlantic, staring out into "the endless blue of the west", he finds a rich tradition of myth, poetry and ancient lore that still speaks to us across the gulf of time... memorable and indeed magical
By turns exhilarating and hauntingly poetic, this is a memorable book, full of reflection and wonder... sublime
A triumph. It is unlikely that a finer travel book will be published all year
Philip Marsden's lovely book is full of [stories], dredged up from the rich tradition of ancient and medieval literature... Best of all are the people Marsden encounters
[A] marvellous book... It's a portal not just to other places but to other times... the best book I've read on a sailing trip since Jonathan Raban's Coasting
[Marsden] knows far more about Celtic mythology, anthropology and the Celtic way of seeing the world, than most of us, and for this he must be commended
The author has long been captivated by this group of islands, and this book charts his first visit, by boat from Cornwall through the Hebrides. It was a journey once taken by adventurers, monks and saints centuries before
One of the most brilliant imaginative and alluring travel books I have read in a long time. Only Robert Macfarlane can now equal Mr. Marsden as a contemporary master of finely written descriptive prose
The writing is vivid and the story is very personal