Norman John Gillies was one of the last children ever born on St Kilda, five years before the whole population was evacuated forever to the British mainland. People had lived on these islands for over four thousand years, developing a thriving, tightly-knit society that knew nothing of crime or money, and took care of its weakest members without hesitation. At the mercy of the seasons and the elements, a unique lifestyle evolved, based around resilience, mutual trust and caring. What was it like to grow up in such harsh conditions? Why and how did this ancient way of life suddenly cease in 1930? Where did the islanders go, and what became of them? And what became of Norman John, child of St Kilda?
This isn’t a story per se, and the first few pages I fully intended to stop reading because I couldn’t figure out where the book was going, but then it sucked me in with its descriptions of every aspect of life on these tiny islands off the coast of Scotland whose way of life vanished in 1930. Truly, a fascinating read.
Beth Waters is an author, illustrator and printmaker currently living in a tiny thatched cottage in Cambridge, UK. Originally from Yorkshire, she studied Literature at The University of Edinburgh. Deciding to combine her love of stories with her lifelong love of drawing, she went to Cambridge School of Art to do the MA in Children’s Book Illustration, where she began to learn the art of printmaking.