Title: The Island House
Author: Posie Graeme-Evans
Review: Freya Dane is a young woman lost in the world. First abandoned by her father as a child, and then with his death he leaves her again. Having hit a rut with her PhD in archaeology she essentially decides to give up on life (not suicidal, but rather she has given up trying) and travel to the remote island off Scotland that her father has left her.
In losing herself she finds herself. With this act of resignation she stops trying to lead the life she believes she should be experiencing and begins to experience the life she is actually having. Digging into her father’s work on the island she gets caught up in the historic past of the island, especially in the forbidden love of its ancient inhabitants.
This focus allows her years of emotional defenses to crumble a little and it is then others are allowed in, to truly risk intimacy with others for better or worse. To often us humans spend so much time protecting ourselves we never take a risk. It is as if we believe avoiding pain is more important than the possibility of pleasure. The truth is life is messy. Great happiness is only possible when you are also exposed to great risk for sadness to.
The ancient inhabitants did their best to conform, to play it safe and fit in; but happiness was never theirs. Even though they paid the ultimate price they did have moments of bliss that would never have been possible otherwise. Freya though excavating their history allows herself to except the pains of her life (the loss of her father – both times) which in turn lets her truly appreciate the good in her life too.
In the end this book teaches us that it is okay to be unhappy, because without it we can never really be happy. You cannot appreciate the sweet without ever tasting the bitter. The Island House is a love story that speaks truth; it’s a journey bumps and all. Plus the history aspect of the novel was pretty good too – icing on the cake.
Quick Review: 4 stars out of 5
Why I Read It: Looked Interesting
Where I Obtained the Book: Sent to me for review by the publisher
Synopsis: In 2011 Freya Dane, a Ph.D. candidate in archaeology, arrives on the ancient Scottish island of Findnar. After years of estrangement from her father, himself an archaeologist who recently died, Freya has come to find out what she can about his work. As she reads through his research notes, she sees he learned a great deal about the Viking and Christian history of the island. But what he found only scratches the surface of the discoveries Freya is about to make.
In 800 A.D. a Pictish girl named Signy loses her entire family during a Viking raid. She is taken in by the surviving members of the Christian community on Findnar, but when she falls deeply in love with a Viking boy, she is cast out. She eventually becomes a nun and finds herself at the center of the clash between the island’s three religious cultures. The tragedy of her story is that, in the end, she must choose among her adopted faith, her native religion, and the man she loves.
Centuries apart, Freya and Signy are each on the verge of life-changing events that will bring present-day and Viking-era Scotland together. The Island House plunges the reader into a past that never dies and a love that reaches out across a thousand years.