- The cover, and the fact that it is historical fiction set in Scotland.
I also recommend:
- The Coming of the Storm by Michael W. Gear
Summary from GoodReads:
A portrait of a marriage, a meditation on faith, and a journey of conquest and self-discovery, Island of Wings is a passionate and atmospheric novel reminiscent of Wuthering Heights.
July, 1830. On the ten-hour sail west from the Hebrides to the islands of St. Kilda, everything lies ahead for Lizzie and Neil McKenzie. Neil is to become the minister to the small community of islanders, and Lizzie, his new wife, is pregnant with their first child. Neil’s journey is evangelical: a testing and strengthening of his own faith against the old pagan ways of the St. Kildans, but it is also a passage to atonement. For Lizzie — bright, beautiful, and devoted — this is an adventure, a voyage into the unknown. She is sure only of her loyalty and love for her husband, but everything that happens from now on will challenge all her certainties.
I struggled with this book, and not because of the writing – but rather because of the story and the conviction it laid on my heart.
I’ve not made any secret of the fact that I am a Christian. I’ve been there, right along with my brothers and sisters in Christ, supporting and encouraging missionaries – but this book gave me a picture (granted, a historical one) that made my heart hurt- not just for the missionary but also for those people he was sent to convert. Recently, in my Literary Theory class, we spoke about Colonialism and Post-Colonialism, and those views were heavily portrayed in Island of Wings.
The story here is one of a missionary and his young wife, a pretty enough gal, sent to a remote island in Scotland to convert the heathens there. They live in a state of filth that reeks of birds dead carcasses, they speak only Gaelic (the missionary’s home tongue), and they have a pagan worship that is hard to “free” them from. What amazed me through this story are two things.
First, that despite years on the island (15 if I recall correctly), the missionary’s wife, Lizzie, never learns any of their language. She is unable to communicate with the people she was sent to minister to, with her husband, after fifteen years. That is unreal to me.
Second, is how bleak the picture is. In this story there are no winners, there is only losers. The story of Neil and his wife are based in historical fact, but the tragedy of the infants deaths on the island (something like 80% didn’t live past 8 days), the lack of connection between Neil and Lizzie and the island natives, and the ultimate end of the story left my heart in shambles.
This is definitely a powerful book, and one to read if you are interested in the historical affects of colonialism on remote places.
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