So in the past few weeks, I’ve read a ton of books set on mysterious islands (usually off the Scottish coast…good for atmosphere I guess). As I previously discussed, Anna Lee Huber’s upcoming book is based on an Island party, and now I just finished another book set on an island only accessible during low tide off the Scottish coast. Danger, mystery, gothic themes, dead birds! This book has it all.
I picked this one up on a whim from Titcomb’s Bookshop in Sandwich, MA. I try to pop in every time I visit my mom on the Cape. It’s just a nice way to round out a weekend…poking around an independent bookstore.
So I thought the cover looked so mysterious and interesting, so I picked it up. Again, set in a time period I love (the early 1900’s) it felt like the perfect read as we head into fall.
Hetty is a woman who inherits a crumbling estate on Murlian Island off the Scottish coast. Only reached by boat or by a track uncovered by low tides, the island and house were once owned by a mysterious painter, Theodore Blake. He brings his new wife to the island in 1910 and she becomes enamored with the wildness and freedom of the island (and also a local man who becomes assistant to her husband). Beatrice’s husband Theo becomes more and more distant during their time at the island and she is drawn more and more to the wild side of the island and the plight of it’s inhabitants. The reader is sent between the two worlds, 1910 and 2010 and the commonality of the two women trying to figure out their place in the world.
Hetty initially wanted to re-do the house on the island as a hotel, but through the book learns more about the story of her ancestors Beatrice and Theodore and comes to realize it’s about the island. The house is secondary. And it’s crumbling around itself. Of course, before she can do anything, a dead body is found in the foundation of a wing of the building. Is it Beatrice? Is it a local? Is it the man apprenticed to Theodore Blake (who later dies mysteriously as well). I didn’t figure out who the body was until almost the very end. The end of the book in 1911 is super sad, but Hetty’s ending is much happier in 2010.
I’m going to try and take a hiatus from mysterious, hard to access islands for a while. Going to keep to landlocked settings for a while. Next book on tap is the second in the Charlotte Holmes series by Sherry Thomas. And I always have more Book of the Month books coming in too. Lots to read!