Child of St. Kilda
Here’s a part of British history about which I for one, had no idea before reading this book so a big thank you to Child’s Play for sending it for review.
In this fascinating tale of the last human inhabitants of the remote Outer Hebridean islands of St.Kilda, Beth Waters relates the story of those living on Hirta, the largest of the islands and in particular of Norman John Gillies, born there in 1925.
Dividing her narration into short sections – What People Did, School, St.Kilda Mail
and so on, she tells of the ups and downs of a subsistence community wherein everybody knew one another, crops often failed and there was no money; sheep were kept for the production of tweed, and wild birds or fish sometimes provided the food as supplies could only be delivered for half the year.
When John Gillies was not quite five his mother became ill, was taken to the mainland and there she died. This precipitated a petition from the remaining inhabitants of St. Kilda to the government asking to be moved to the British mainland and by 1930 the entire population was evacuated.
The islands are now a World Heritage Site.
Beth Walters’ monoprint illustrations of the sea, sky and cliffs, executed in green, blue and russet hues are superbly evocative of a long gone way of life; and she also includes some contemporary photographs and excerpts from her sketchbook.