My book review of 'The Island House' by Mary Considine
Islands always seem magical and the memory of visiting an island off the coast of Cornwall many years ago on a family holiday has always stayed with me.
And it immediately came to mind when I saw this book though I didn't remember any details about the owners or even what the island was called. It was therefore a real treat to learn more about it...
The island is called St George's or Looe Island and it was home to two sisters, Babs and Evelyn Atkins, who remained here until their late 80s. They had prepared for their deaths by putting the island in the hands of Cornwall Wildlife Trust so that it might remain as they had left it, unchanged for decades, inviting visitors arriving by boat to wander and sip tea and eat cake just as if they were guests of the family.
Mary Considine remembered being one of these special guests in her childhood. She had returned to the area when life in London had imploded and heard that the Trust had taken over the island and was considering its future role.
Mary and her husband had reached an impasse in their own career and life plans. But they loved the island and they felt that they could work for the trust by becoming the new caretakers, carrying on just as the two sisters had wanted.
It wasn't a comfortable transition. The Considines had had a comfortable life and the house on the island had fallen into some disrepair. Electricity and water were difficult to come by initially. But they were resourceful and determined and gradually they brought just enough control to the unruly location.
It's a lovely account of making a new and very different life in a beautiful, unique location and conjured up many happy memories for me. I'd love to visit again - or perhaps I'll remember it as it was for me then.