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Island Wife: Living on the edge of the wild

by Judy Fairbairns

Judy Fairbairns married the free-spirited Alex at the tender age of 19 and he whisked her away from a life in southern England to a remote Hebridean island where the wind blows constantly, the weather is always changing and whales swim just offshore. Along the way she bears five children, learns how to help run a rocky hill farm, a hotel, a recording studio and the first whale watching business in the U.K. -- all the while inventively making ends meet...barely. When her children start to leave home, things fall apart and there is sadness and joy in how she puts things back together. Island Wife is in turns funny, unforgettable and intensely moving.

Common Cause -- Commonwealth Scots and the Great War

by Stuart Allan and David Forsyth

Published to coincide with the 2014 exhibition of the same name in Edinburgh, Common Cause - Commonwealth Scots and the Great War explores the stories of the Scottish Diaspora during the First World War. The book (and exhibition) explore how the war was experienced and commemorated in different parts of the British Empire and how military service was related to other expressions of Scottish identity and culture such as Caledonian societies, Presbyterianism and piping. A set of bagpipes belonging to Piper James Richardson, who had emigrated to Vancouver, Canada, with his family before the war, which were retrieved from the fields of the Somme...the Victoria Cross given to an Ulster Scot who fought for the New Zealand Expeditionary Force...and dozens upon dozens of other personal items, historic photos and newsreels...shape this powerful narrative.

And the Land Lay Still

by James Robertson

James Robertson's magnum opus is nothing less than the story of Scotland from the 1940s to 2008 as seen through the eyes of natives and immigrants, journalists and politicians, dropouts and spies, all trying to make their way through a country in the throes of great and rapid change. It is a moving, sweeping story of family, friendship, struggle and hope...and epic in every sense. The winner of the Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year Award 2010, And the Land Lay Still is a masterful insight into Scotland's history in the 20th century and a moving, beautifully written novel of intertwined stories.


Full reviews of these books are available in the Winter 2014 issue of Scottish Life.

Previously Reviewed Books