Island on the Edge

A Life on Soay

By Anne Cholawo

Format: Multiple Formats

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Birlinn Limited

Birlinn publishes mostly non-fiction books, ranging from biography to history, military history and Scottish interest. Their imprints, Polygon Books, Arena Sport Books and John Donald Books, publish a wide variety of genres including culture, literary fiction, poetry and sports.

Product Description


Anne Cholawo was a typical 80s career girl working in a busy London advertising agency, when in 1989, holidaying in Skye, she noticed an advert for a property on the Isle of Soay - 'Access by courtesy of fishing boat'. She had never heard of Soay before, let alone visited it, but something inexplicable drew her there. Within ten minutes of stepping off the said fishing boat, she had fallen under the spell of the island, and after a few months she moved there to live. She is still there. When she arrived on the remote west coast island there were only 17 inhabitants, among them the legendary Hebridean sharker Tex Geddes and his family. Today, including Anne and her husband Robert, there are only three. This book describes her extraordinary transition from a hectic urban lifestyle to one of rural isolation and self-sufficiency, without mains electricity, medical services, shops or any of the other modern amenities we take for granted. Anne describes the history of Soay and its unique wildlife, and as well as telling her own personal story introduces along the way some of the off-beat and colourful characters associated with the island, notably Tex's one-time associate, the celebrated writer and naturalist, Gavin Maxwell.

Additional Information

Additional Information

Format Multiple Formats
Imprint Birlinn Limited
Publication Date 1 Aug 2016
SKU 9781780273495-grouped
Number of Pages 240

Customer Reviews

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Press Reviews

'a remarkable tale of remote living'

'a lovely, gentle tale of a lady who had to wind down to adjust to her new life, which proved to be anything but dull! It will stir the adventurer in all of us!' 

'This is a rather subtle book, all the more convincing for its occasional naiveties and its draughtswoman's plainness of observation... The plainness of the writing is exemplary. There are a couple of heart-stopping sunsets, but mostly we get to know Anne through tiny glimpses and tone-changes. She doesn't make a show of naivety. It also comes through in tiny verbal lapses, as when she mixes up sulphur dioxide (which smells) and carbon monoxide (which doesn't), or when she refers, delightfully, to installing a "hot water gas geezer"' 

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