The death of clan patriarch Macgregor Tulloch has thrown the tiny Shetland Islands community of Whales Reef into turmoil. Everyone assumed Tulloch’s heir to be his much-loved grandnephew David. But when no will is discovered, David’s calculating cousin Hardy submits his own claim to the inheritance, an estate that controls most of the island’s land. And Hardy knows a North Sea oil investor who will pay dearly for that control.
While the competing claims are investigated, the courts have frozen the estate’s assets, leaving many of the locals in dire financial straits. The future of the island–and its traditional way of life–hangs in the balance.
Meanwhile, Loni Ford enjoys a rising career in a large investment firm in Washington, D.C. Yet, in spite of outward success, she is privately plagued by questions of identity. Orphaned as a young child, she was raised by her grandparents, and while she loves them dearly, she feels completely detached from her roots. That is, until a mysterious letter arrives from a Scottish solicitor. . . .
Past and present collide in master storyteller Michael Phillips’ dramatic new saga of loss and discovery, of grasping and grace.
It’s been a long time since I haven’t liked a book I’ve reviewed. In fact, I can’t remember the last one I didn’t enjoy. But I just couldn’t get into this one.
It’s got some great points, so I’ll start with those, and I’ll explain where I’m coming from — because I’ve read others’ reviews for this book and it seems like I may be the anomaly here!
First — Michael Phillips has unbelievable skills at descriptive writing. If you are someone who can take a very well-detailed written description and turn it into vivid scenery in your mind, diving head first right into the book, and almost feeling like you’re there…. well, then you’ll likely love this book.
But if you’re like me, and your brain just doesn’t do that, you may find this book to be a bit of a struggle. I have always had a hard time turning written or verbal description into pictures in my brain. When someone tries to explain to me how they’re redecorating their house, it means nothing to me unless they’re accompanying the description with actual pictures. Something I can physically see with my eyeballs. So when a book gets very descriptive, I get lost in the details. I do better with more dialogue and fewer details. So this book, I’ll admit, had me lost for good chunks of it. I had to reread parts to make sure I was still tracking with the plot.
Second — the characters are endearing. I did enjoy following along with the characters as they developed, and as Phillips gave you bit by bit, another glimpse into who they are. There are stark contrasts in the two settings in this book, flipping (expertly, might I add) between Loni Ford’s life in the financial district of Washington, DC and David Tulloch’s life in a clan-type way of life in the Shetland Islands in the Atlantic north of Scotland. The pieces all weave themselves together in a way I have to give the author credit for, because I know I’d NEVER be able to pull all those pieces together like that. And it wasn’t confusing, which books that flip between plot lines can end up being.
Third — I loved the way the jargon and the way of life of the Shetland Islands came to life. This is me over here, not being able to process the detail, but soaking in every ounce of the dialogue. Helpful hint, though: I found the Scottish accent dialogue easier to read out loud (and it gave me a semblance of a fun accent!), so you may want to read alone ;).
When it really came down to it, I think I’d recommend the book. But if I knew the person was like me and was not focused on details, I likely wouldn’t. So, like I said, please take my review with a grain of salt. It’s important to me that readers know what I thought of a book, so I’m being honest, but I also would never want to ward you off of an otherwise good book, as long as you love the details. I shared this revelation with my Mom, that I thought the book just had TOO MUCH detail, and she really wants to read it now because she loves that sort of thing.
Have you read it? What did you think? Am I the only one to have gotten buried in the details?
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.