Ariane Bankes

Otter Spotter

Island of Dreams: A Personal History of a Remarkable Place

By

Picador 241pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

This is the story of an obsession. Dan Boothby enjoyed (or endured) a fatherless, gypsy childhood, and subsequently drifted for years before fetching up at the Kyleakin Lighthouse, off the coast of Skye, last home of Gavin Maxwell. It was Maxwell – that inspired but tortured writer – who was the lodestar of Boothby’s wanderings, the focus of his thoughts and dreams. For a boy brought up on the fringes of society, it is not hard to see why: Maxwell was the quintessential outsider, almost feral in his likes and dislikes and his love of the wild, notwithstanding his privileged background. The sanctuary he created at Camusfeàrna (in reality Sandaig), where he would hole up with his beloved otters and a series of young boys, has exerted a magnetic fascination for generations of would-be naturalists and fugitives from urban life.

It was the discovery of Maxwell’s Raven Seek Thy Brother that set the teenage Boothby on his fitful course. The final volume of the trilogy begun with Ring of Bright Water, 

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Whom did Picasso label a 'bristly pig'? Read Rosalind P Blakesley's review of The Collector by Natalya Semenova to… ,
    • Alexandra Gajda on Anna Beer's new biography, Patriot or Traitor: The Life and Death of Sir Walter Ralegh ,
    • Mark Lawson reviews @jonathancoe's Middle England - The Rotters' Club for our Brexit age. ,
    • 'Behind every book that is published lies ... a haunted landscape, populated by the ghosts of things written and ex… ,
    • 'We once more live in a great age of dragon invention' Here's Tom Shippey on Martin Arnold's The Dragon ,
    • RT : Man at the q&a part of the book panel: Don't say it Don't say it Don't say it Don't say it Don't say it Don't s… ,
    • Here's @epkaufm's Whiteshift, reviewed in this month's magazine by ,