The Island Harp

Jeanne Williams, Author St. Martin's Press $19.95 (338p) ISBN 978-0-312-06570-6
Set in the mid-19th-century Scottish Hebrides, Williams's ( Home Mountain ) touching romance chronicles a spirited people living during a harsh time. When young Mairi's grandfather dies, her family is driven off the land on which their ancestors dwelled for centuries. Some take the opportunity to find a new life in America, but Mairi stubbornly refuses to leave. With the help of handsome and kind Captain Iain MacDonald, the remaining family members form a new community that must eke out an existence on the barren rocks by the sea. Through difficult circumstances, including potato blight, near-starvation and rough storms, Mairi keeps the new community together, preserving her people's heritage through the magical tales she unfolds with the help of her harp, Cridhe. Her achievements win her many suitors, but Mairi anxiously awaits Iain's rare visits, though their disparate social standings--he is a gentleman--means they can never marry. When she has his child, the community stands by her, and soon a change in circumstance improves her lot. Packed full of Scottish lore, Williams' narrative is sometimes sloppy and often overwrought, but ultimately moving. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
Hardcover - 537 pages - 978-1-56054-399-2
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-312-95001-9
Paperback - 356 pages - 978-0-595-09582-7
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