I have enjoyed Jeanne Williams' novels of the American prairies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, often featuring characters who had immigrated to this country, particularly Scots after the Clearances and Irish following the potato famine. The Island Harp, my new favorite, is the story of one family who did not immigrate following their being forced off the land in the Outer Hebrides but rather made a new life as near to the old as possible. The determined leader of those who refuse to leave is Mairi,a young woman, whose loyalty to the land, the heritage of an ancient harp named Cirdhe, and the importance of family provide constancy and stability in a swiftly changing world. Help comes from Iain MacDonald, a Scottish gentleman and army officer, with whom Mairi developes a seemingly doomed romance, a relationship which Williams eventually brings to a satisfying yet believable conclusion. The historical and cultural details were fascinating for me, the story was developed cogently, and characters were clearly drawn and likable. I thoroughly enjoyed The Island Harp and find scenes from the book recurring in my mind as if I were remembering a personal experience. Publisher's weekly says, "Packed full of Scottish lore, Williams' narrative is sometimes sloppy and often overwrought, but ultimately moving." I, on the other hand, found it thoroughly satisfying and, indeed, moving.
I loved this book!!! Great story and very good characters!
This is an engaging story with believable characters and a strong female protagonist. Williams has captured the pride and great heritage of the people of the Scottish Isles, as well as the setting of the Isles themselves, with great accuracy and detail. Recommended.