“Twenty-two acres, a mile round, the island could just be a large field, were it not for the steep hill at the west, the darkness of the woodland to the north, the distinct areas of grassland and shingle, gardens and cliffs. Because of that, that isolation, it is automatically romantic, fat with legend and history”. So the landscape is set for Mary Considine’s beautifully-written memoir of returning to rugged St George’s Island, a place she loved from childhood. When Mary and Patrick’s London life all but disintegrates during a year of tragic loss, feeling “caught between the loss of my old family and any new one”, Mary longed for the island, for any contact with it. It called to me”. So, the couple put their house on the market and seize an opportunity to becomes tenants of Island House, on condition that they renovate it. The work is hard, the winters are harsh (the island is inaccessible in winter), and the raw beauty is palpable as Considine relates their experiences, sharing stories of former tenants and local friends, Cornish history and legends, island nature and wildlife. Skipping with poetic style and shot-through with a profound love for this specific island, this personal memoir also speaks of the power of place more generally. It’s a mesmerising read that will enchant all of us who’ve fallen for a place and felt that longing to return, that longing to belong. In Mary’s case, her island “speaks to us with the voice of a gull, a seal, a storm, with the voices of the drowned and the departed”. Beautiful.