Wednesday, 4 March 2020

#BlogTour The Lost Lights of St Kilda by Elisabeth Gifford

It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Lost Lights of St Kilda by Elisabeth Gifford.
About the Author
Elisabeth Gifford grew up in a vicarage in the industrial Midlands. She studied French literature and world religions at Leeds University. Her bestselling novel, Secrets of the Sea House, was shortlisted for the Historical Writers' Association's Debut Crown for Best First Historical Novel in 2014. She is married with three children, and lives in Kingston upon Thames.

Follow @elisabeth04liz on Twitter, on Goodreads, on Amazon, Visit elisabethgifford.comBuy The Lost Lights of St Kilda

About the book
A sweeping novel set on the Scottish island of St Kilda, following the last community to live there before it was evacuated in 1930.

When Fred Lawson takes a summer job on St Kilda in 1927, little does he realise that he has joined the last community to ever live on that desolate, isolated island. Only three years later, St Kilda will be evacuated, the islanders near-dead from starvation. But for Fred, that summer is the bedrock of his whole life...

Chrissie Gillies is just nineteen when the researchers come to St Kilda. Hired as their cook, she can't believe they would ever notice her, sophisticated and educated as they are. But she soon develops a cautious friendship with Fred, a friendship that cannot be allowed to develop into anything more...

The story begins with a prisoner of war called Fred dissociating himself with the torture he is subjected to and the possibility that he will die overseas, by imagining that he is back on the isle where he fell in love and the woman he left behind.

Chrissie is one of the natives of St Kilda, who had to be evacuated to the mainland. She has had to restart her life and adapt to her new circumstances. Her friendship with young Fred is becoming a distant memory, despite that her heart still hopes that she will see him again one day.

What the different storylines and characters have in common is their relationship with St Kilda. A place that leaves its mark on those who experience it. The tragedy of war and the equally tragic fate of an isolated community being thrust into mainstream society is told against the backdrop of the haunting beauty of the place they all yearn for.

I think it's difficult to pinpoint which element of the book is the most poignant, perhaps because they are all equally so, and to be fair Gifford does them all justice. The history of St Kilda, the beauty of the place itself and the relationship those who have visited or lived there have with St Kilda. Then the tragedy of years and lives lost to the conflict of war.

I can remember a few years ago reading a book about infant mortality and lockjaw on a remote Scottish isle, and the old unhygienic rituals at birth that led to the extremely high death rate - definitely worth reading up on, so kudos to the author for adding that historical tidbit to the story.

It's a story of kinship, love and loyalty - it's historical and literary fiction.

Gifford gives her readers heightened emotions, but without gratuitous details. Instead those emotions are delivered via breathtaking descriptive language and seen through the eyes of each character.

Buy The Lost Lights of St Kilda at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Corvus; pub date 5 Mar. 2020. Buy books by Gifford at Amazon com.

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