Ahhhh, The Lost Lights of St Kilda truly captivated me. It is written in such a beautiful, subtle manner that evoked a deep impression on me. With its evocative sense of setting, emotional portrayal of true events and its understated love story, I was completely mesmerised reading this book.
I’ve always been fascinated by the Scottish island of St Kilda and its evacuation. So when I was offered to read and review this book, I jumped at the chance. And now that I have, I urge everyone else to read it also. The Lost Lights of St Kilda is definitely one of my favourite reads of 2020. It easily deserves a top five star rating in my view.
Skillfully written using a dual timeline seeped in true historical events , The Lost Lights of St Kilda depicts the harsh life of the small, isolated community on the Outer Hebridean island over 100 miles from the Scottish mainland. Furthermore it powerfully portrays the extent of that isolation that led to starvation and the community permanently evacuating St Kilda in 1930.
The novel opens in a prisoner-of-war camp in 1940. Fred Lawson, captured and beaten by the Nazis is haunted by the memory of Chrissie, his lost love. She was 19 when Fred arrived on the desolate island in the summer of 1927 along with his friend Archie Macleod, the Laird’s son. Cautiously Fred and Chrissie develop a friendship which secretly develops into something deeper. Yet as she must dedicate her life to St Kilda to ensure her family and community’s survival and he is a Cambridge undergraduate, their lives are worlds apart.
Years later when Fred is at war, he is shocked to learn the truth about the evacuation of St Kilda. Not knowing whereabouts in Scotland Chrissie may be, Fred makes the daring decision to escape from prison to try and find her.
Yes, this is an enduring love story between Fred and Chrissie – but it is also a poignant love story between a beautiful island and it’s inhabitants. Through Elisabeth Gifford’s haunting prose, the lives of the islanders vividly comes alive. The empathy I felt for the islanders was so visceral. Seeped in historical fact and powerfully portraying the natural beauty of the remote archipelago, I couldn’t put this book down. Furthermore I was devastated when I reached the end.
The research that Elisabeth Gifford must have done to create this stunning read is unbelievable; not just the historical facts about St Kilda, but also the authentic details which describe Fred’s escape through Europe during World War 2. This part of the story was truly gripping. Each of these two elements of the book are beautifully interwoven together to create a stunning, haunting read.
I must thank Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to be part of the blog tour to publicise The Lost Lights of St Kilda. I loved every page of this book. A massive thank you also to Elisabeth Gifford for writing such a poignant, evocative story. Thank you also for my beautiful, finished copy that I received to review. This is a book I will truly treasure.
The Lost Lights of St Kilda was published on Thursday, 5th March 2020.
To view the reviews from my fellow book bloggers also on the blog tour, please see below.
Happy reading everyone! 🙂