Book tells of author’s journey to isolation
ONE OF Soay’s three inhabitants has written a book documenting three decades of island life.
Island on the Edge: A Life on Soay by Anne Cholawo, due to be published in August, describes the history of Soay and its unique wildlife.
As well as telling the author’s own story, it features the island’s offbeat and colourful characters including the celebrated writer, naturalist and basking shark hunter Gavin Maxwell.
‘Anne Cholawo was a typical 1980s career girl working in a busy London advertising agency when, holidaying in the Hebrides for the first time in 1989, she noticed an advert for a property on the isle of Soay – access by courtesy of fishing boat,’ explained the book’s publisher, Birlinn.
‘She had never heard of Soay before, let alone visited it, but an inexplicable impulse drew her there. Within 10 minutes of stepping off that fishing boat, she had fallen under the spell of the island nestling under the majestic protection of Skye’s Cuillin mountains. A few months later she had moved there to live. She is still there.
‘When she arrived on Soay there were only 17 inhabitants. Today, including Anne and her husband Robert, only three remain.
‘This book is a first-person account of her extraordinary transition from a hectic urban life to one of isolated self- sufficiency.’
Her piano was airlifted onto the island by a Sea King helicopter courtesy of the Royal Marines Commando on summer exercises and this was the fateful event that introduced her to her husband.
She also received fishing lessons from legendary Hebridean sharker Tex Geddes and became a stalwart of the island’s sheep chase: the periodic round-up of the roaming herd and its subsequent ceilidh. Birlinn continued: ‘Cholawo has experienced and recorded Soay’s story during decades that saw the ebb and flow of populations and enterprises transform life on Scotland’s islands.’
Anne Cholawo has written a book about Soay.