Islander: A Journey Around Our Archipelago
Britain is an archipelago made up of two large islands and 6,289 smaller ones. Some, like the Isle of Man, resemble miniature nations, with their own language and tax laws; others, like Ray Island in Essex, are abandoned and mysterious places haunted by myths, ghosts and foxes. There are resurgent islands such as Eigg, which have been liberated from capricious owners to be run by their residents; holy islands like Bardsey, the resting place of 20,000 saints, and still a site of spiritual questing; and deserted islands such as St Kilda, famed for the evacuation of its human population, and now dominated by wild sheep and seabirds. In this evocative and vividly observed book, Patrick Barkham explores some of the most beautiful landscapes in Britain as he travels to ever smaller islands in search of their special magic. Our small islands are both places of freedom and imprisonment, party destinations and oases of peace, strangely suburban and deeply wild. They are places where the past is unusually present, but they can also offer a vision of an alternative future. Meeting all kinds of islanders, from nuns to puffins, from local legends to rare subspecies of vole, he seeks to discover what it is like to live on a small island, and what it means to be an islander.
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Enchanting and lyrical, Islander is a book of many wonders; a book of coasts and heartlands, of peripheries and interiors -- and a profoundly moving portrait of our natural world
Wonderfully warm-hearted social, natural and above all literary history of the islands that surround the larger island of Britain... This is right up there with the most beautiful publications of the year so far.
It is very rare for me to write a book and think, gosh I really hope the author writes a sequel… Barkham’s triumph is to write a book about islands that is more concerned with politics than periwinkles
Barkham, a lovely, fluid writer... has a wonderful eye for detail… This is poetry
Barkham visits all sorts of weird and wonderful people on each land and paints a vivid and at times idiosyncratic picture of life cut off from mainland Britain, but he also seriously examines the perennial appeal of island life for many. Barkham is an engaging guide… Barkham’s strengths are his evocative nature writing and his literary research – he is good at tying in previous literary visitors and history to his contemporary narrative, finding resonances and nuance wherever he goes
Barkham, a journalist and a naturalist, unearths a rich vein of history... Full of fascinating detail, his book succeeds superbly in conveying the difficulties and allure of island living.The Sunday Times