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The land owns us...,
This review is from: Sea Room: An Island Life in the Hebrides (Paperback)Not the other way around. This was the greatest theme I took away from Adam Nicolson's "Sea Room," the story of the three tiny, uninhabited Shiant (say "Shant") Islands in the Hebrides of Scotland, which Nicholson inherited from his father (the famed author Nigel Nicolson, the son of Vita Sackville-West).
Nicolson's approach to describing the islands for his readers resembles John McPhee's: it's an engaging blend of natural history (how were the islands formed?), human history (who lived here and why?), archaeology, and ecology (how do the animals and plants of the Shiants form a whole world?). The difference is that Nicolson's passion for place is quite specific: he loves the Shiants like one loves one's parents, infinitely and irreplaceably. You can't imagine him running off and writing a second book about another place.
Nicolson's prose is lyric and detailed at the same time; despite the length (350 pages and more), the story never flags. At the end of the book, Nicholson defends his continued private ownership of the islands (many feel they should be a public trust); I wasn't convinced, but I respected his strong urge to transmit his love of the place to his son and future generations of his family.
By the way, Nicholson publicly offers the keys to his cottage to anyone desiring to stay there (his e-mail address is in the book); but consider first that rats seem now to be part of the natural ecology of the place. But perhaps that won't phase you (it doesn't phase Nicholson a bit!).