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The Crack Magazine

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I Am An Island - Tamsin Calidas

Tamsin Calidas moved from London to a small island in the Scottish Hebrides and this is the memoir of the fifteen years she’s spent there. Reading the endorsement quotes/blurbs on the outside and inside of the front cover you’d be fooled into thinking it was ‘merely’ one woman’s redemptive and thrilling struggle to survive and prosper against the natural elements, isolation and the hardships of island life. And, of course, it is. But this is only half the story. It seems to be an island firmly stuck in the past, as there’s been a constant strain of overt misogyny, sexual threat and racism which the author bravely stands up to for years and years before there’s any kind of reluctant acceptance. Straw Dogs came to mind on many occasions. In one confrontation her father is called a “darkie”, in another someone baldly states, “We are family, if you get my drift. You do not belong here. This island will never be your home”.  But home it remains and says something of the author’s sheer grit and bloody mindedness to make island life work. A beautifully written memoir which for me left a very bitter aftertaste.

I Am an IslandTamsin Calidas – Publ. by Penguin - £9.99

Steven Long

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