Marram came to me from the publisher via net-galley. I’m not sure whether the cover or the blurb attracted me first, or just the mention of a journey through the Hebrides. I’m just grateful for the opportunity to read it before its publication next week.
From the southern tip of Barra to the ancient stone circle of Callanish, Leonie and her friend Shuna ride off the beaten tracks on their beloved Highland ponies, Ross and Chief. In deeply poetic prose, she describes not only the beauties of the Hebridean landscape, its spare, penetrating light and its people, but also confronts the ghost of her mother and their deeply fractured relationship.(goodreads)
I confess I was a little nervous about the ‘but also’ bit at the end of the blurb, but this book is a delight to read.
It helps if you have a longing for the wild, wet and woolly Western Isles of Scotland. It helps if you too adore the idea of a holiday roaming around them on your Highland pony. It helps if you love examining lichen-encrusted rocks while absorbing the sounds of wind, wave and wildlife.
But I’m sure you don’t need that.
Leonie Charlton writes of her journey through the marram grass, across the sands and sea-fords with a detailed eye and loving, lingering words. I strongly admired her choices of words for birdcalls. The oystercatchers, redshank and lapwing were particularly apt.
My concerns about the relationship with her mother soon blended with the rest of the journey. It had been an uneasy relationship. Her mother had developed a brain tumour, maybe when the author was in her teens. It was not diagnosed for decades. I have secondhand experience of this situation. I would hesitate to discuss it with the daughter concerned, but from the little she’s told me, Leonie’s experiences were very similar. So I even enjoyed Leonie’s gradual unravelling of her past as the journey progressed.
As for the book overall, I had the most restful nights as a result of reading it before bed, despite the real danger they fell into near the end. Instead of the stresses of house moves and alterations keeping my mind buzzing, I fell asleep dreaming of the sound of wind in the grass and seabirds on the strand.