It’s such a pleasure today to be helping launch the blog tour for Dreaming Under An Island Skye by Lisa Hobman, and to share my publication day review. Published by Boldwood Books, it’s now available for kindle via Amazon (free via Kindle Unlimited), in paperback and as an audiobook. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the publishers for my advance reading copy (provided via netgalley).
This isn’t the first time I’ve read a book by Lisa Hobman. Way back in the mists of time – ok, it was 2013 – I had the joy of discovering her writing with Bridge Over The Atlantic (you’ll find my review here), later signed by Aria Fiction and re-released as A Seaside Escape. I really loved it – well-drawn characters, a strong sense of place and a lovely exploration of damaged people being repaired by love. I’m rather kicking myself that I never returned to read her later books, but I was so delighted when I noticed that she’d become a Boldwood author – I remembered how much I’d enjoyed her writing, and I was really looking forward to this one.
Is there really such a thing as a second shot at true love?
After three wonderful years of marriage, librarian Juliette Fairhurst’s heart is shattered when her husband, Laurie, is taken from her much too soon.
Devastated, Juliette decides to take a sabbatical and reconnect with her mother’s birthplace, the village of Glentorrin on the picturesque Isle of Skye.
Welcomed by most of the villagers, Juliette throws herself into an idyllic community life, taking on the role of temporary summer guardian at The Lifeboat House Museum; a role that offers her the perfect escape from the tragedy of her real life.
During her time on the island, Juliette clashes with brooding single dad and artist, Reid Mackinnon and is befriended by his son Evin and dog Chewie. It’s clear that divorced Reid is struggling and scarred by his own painful experiences.
Can these two lost souls find a lifeline to rescue each other? Or will their pasts scupper their second chance at real happiness?
A second chance romance, especially when the people involved are a bit bruised and broken, is always something that I particularly enjoy – but it’s far from the only reason why I thought this book was so thoroughly lovely. After the loss of the love of her life, Juliette’s unbearable grief and sense of acute loss is alleviated a little by the support of her family and her steadfast friend Millie – but what she really needs is some time among people who aren’t aware of the tragedy that’s begun to define her, to take some time to heal. Her mother’s family come from Skye, and she decides it’s the perfect place – and, after an unfortunate first encounter and a rather dramatic incident that places her centre-stage for a while, the village of Glentorrin begins to welcome her as one of their own. She finds a job and a temporary home at the museum in the lifeboat house, enjoys making new friends (but encounters some less friendly natives too), and the prospect of moving on and starting again begins to look increasingly possible.
The community of Glentorrin is quite wonderful – all such well drawn individuals. After a bit of a false start, and with a few stumbles at times, she grows close to artist Reid (not the “grumpy erse” he appears at first to be) and his young son Evin (and, in time, to his over-exuberant dog Chewie): and she finds she’s not the only one struggling with life, but also that she’s ideally placed to catch someone else as they’re falling, and to support them through it. The story could easily have become a little heavy at times – depression, mental issues, a tug of love situation – but the author is assured in its handling and treads lightly, while not skirting the realities. There might be those (well, certainly one in particular… who’s a tad off-balance herself) who feel her “mind-trickery and hippy shit” aren’t needed – but Reid’s path to healing and the faint possibility of a happy ending make it a very realistic and well-told story.
There were so many small things I loved about this book. The setting is quite wonderful – beautifully and vividly described – and I loved the museum (and the poignant stories behind some of its artefacts), those lovely nights in the pub eating haggis and stripping the willow (it might pass some readers by, but how lovely that Greg – from the last book I read – appeared as a “turn”!), and the way everything looks infinitely brighter with a bag of shortbread in your hand. The friendships formed were warm and lovely (Caitlin at the bakery, Archie from the outdoor clothing shop, Kenneth and Morag at the guest house and shop… and so many more): the slow-build and unlikely romance was perfectly paced and handled, and I really loved the relationship she developed with young Evin (and who wouldn’t love to become known as “Sparkly”, however unlikely when she first arrived).
I really enjoyed the set piece of the village games – other than the tear in my eye at the appearance of a summer robin (mmm, you’ll have to read the book to get that one… very nicely done). And I must mention the music, which I remember being a particular feature in the other book I’ve read by the author. And not just the traditional Scots plus Greg on his guitar, but the soundtrack of Radio Skye always in the background – suffice to say I’ve become quite a fan of Lewis Capaldi, whose music and great lyrics had rather passed me by until now.
It’s just a great story – with highs and lows for its lovely characters, and quite a few issues to be disentangled – quite beautifully written, really involving and thoroughly heartwarming. I really didn’t want to leave the characters – or the Isle of Skye itself – behind, and that’s always a sure sign of a book well enjoyed. Very much recommended – I loved this one, and I’m really looking forward to reading more from Lisa Hobman.
About the author
Lisa Hobman has written many brilliantly reviewed women’s fiction titles – the first of which was shortlisted by the RNA for their debut novel award. In 2012 Lisa relocated her family from Yorkshire to a village in Scotland and this beautiful backdrop now inspires her uplifting and romantic stories.