The Island House

by Mary Considine

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LoveReading Expert Review of The Island House

Rugged beauty and resilience abound in this inspiring, poetic “new lives in the wild” memoir

“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. 

Joanne Owen

The Island House Synopsis

'In the January dark, a young man walks slowly into the sea. He can't see where he is going, but he knows the island is calling...'

Mary and Patrick's dream was to live in London, have 2.4 children, the nice house, the successful jobs. But life had other plans, and in one traumatic year that all came crashing down.

Bruised and battered, Mary finds herself pulled towards Cornwall and dreams of St George's Island, where she spent halcyon childhood summers. So, when an opportunity arises to become tenants if they renovate the old Island House, they grab it with both hands.

Life on the island is hard, especially in winter, the sea and weather, unforgiving. But the rugged natural beauty, the friendly ghosts of previous inhabitants, and the beautiful isolation of island life bring hope and purpose, as they discover a resilience they never knew they had.

About This Edition

ISBN: 9781800960145
Publication date: 9th June 2022
Author: Mary Considine
Publisher: Monoray an imprint of Octopus Publishing Group
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 256 pages
Primary Genre Biographies & Autobiographies
Other Genres:

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The Island House Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

A book that will leave you needing to know more and probably, haring off down the M5 to see Looe Island for yourself.

What an enchanting book! From the first paragraph, I was drawn into Mary and Patrick’s dream and their experiences. It is beautifully written with a poignancy that reaches out and touches the heart.
Mary Considine spent much of her childhood holidays on Looe Island, helping the indominable sisters, Attie and Babs Atkins. These ladies had bought the island in the 60’s and, through offering “working holidays”, managed to keep their frugal lifestyle going until 2004. In her will, Babs left the Island to the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, and this is when Mary was able to realise her dream of living there.
They take a twenty-year lease out on The Island House, committing to renovate it in the most sympathetic and environmentally friendly way they could. Documenting their ongoing battle against the elements in winter, the logistics of getting items to the island make fascinating reading. There are wonderful characters here, the ones who are long gone and the ones who are definitely alive and kicking! We feel Mary’s dilemma when the pigs they have reared are dispatched; when poaching nets have trapped cormorants and when their ducks have husband problems! We also feel her despair when Patrick’s health starts to fail and they are faced with difficult decisions.
Do yourself a favour, read it.

Belle Woodward

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9781800960145
Publication date: 09/06/2022
Format: Hardback

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