Vicky's Reviews > Island On The Edge Of The World: The Story Of St. Kilda

Island On The Edge Of The World by Charles Maclean
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Jan 08, 2015

it was amazing
bookshelves: scotland, ethnography, on-an-island, around-the-world, 2012-reads
Read from April 02 to 16, 2012

Around the World = St Kilda.

St. Kilda is an archipelago in the Western Isles of Scotland, some 40 miles from the next nearest inhabited island. For more than 2000 years the island was inhabited by a small population, eking out an existance in near splendid isolation in the harsh conditions of the North Atlantic.

Drawing on the accounts of visitors from the 17th Century onwards, Maclean details the native population's struggle to come to terms with encroaching modernity and increased contact with outsiders, bringing with it greater dependence on charity and an gradual erosion of their independence, until, following tragic events, the remaining islanders were evacuated to mainland Scotland in 1930.

There is a tendency to view the St. Kildan community as a utopian society, natives living the simple life in perfect harmony and co-operation, despoiled by external influences, however Maclean succeeds in avoiding this sentimental trope, concentrating on the realities of life to produce a well-written social and natural history of a fascinating place.
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue Sounds interesting.

Sylvia After you mentioned the book in one of the other topics on Challenge 52 books I immediately ordered the book. I once visited the Outer Hebrides and I never knew that to west of Lewis there was another group if small islands. Thanks, I'm looking forward reading this book which I got in delivered yesterday.

Jenny (Reading Envy) I'm going to end up reading a lot of Hebrides books, thanks to you. :)

Vicky No problem. If you find anything interesting, give me a recommendation.

Sylvia wrote: I once visited the Outer Hebrides and I never knew that to west of Lewis there was anot...

I've never been out to the Outer Hebrides, but its somewhere I'd love to go to, having visited a lot of the Inner Hebrides and Northern Isles. There are several little groups of islands with a similar, but less well known story all round the coast of Scotland; Mingulay, the Monach Islands, North Rona, the Flannan Isles and so on. Many more were used seasonally for pasture, but people have moved away from that traditional way of living and need closer contact with the rest of the world.

message 5: by Sharon (new) - added it

Sharon Roy Sounds very intriguing. This challenge is wonderful for making us all aware of so many interesting books. I don't know much about the Outer Hebrides, but this book will fit in with a theme that seems to be emerging in my reading this year; namely, what happens when a culture based on subsistence encounters modernity. It sounds as though this book will provide an authentic look at what that transition was like in this situation. I am intrigued and will be reading this at some point !

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