Book 35 Bhalla Strand by Sarah Maine is a worthy 35th book of the year. I have said before covers of books are so important they grab your attention and get you to turn the book over and read the cover. This book grabbed my attention as I could see straight away that it was set in the Hebrides from the colours of the beach and the architecture of the house in the background.
I am an island person. I love them and have always since I was a little girl and travelled doon the water to the Isle of Bute have always wanted to live on an island. Over the years I have had the joy of discovering more and more of the wonderful Islands that we are so lucky to have in Scotland. For the last couple of years as a family we have holidayed in the Hebrides in Harris and Lewis and like all the islands I have visited they have captured a part of my heart that will always long to be there taking in the colours, walking along the beach or watching the Cal Mac Ferry leave. If I am ever to achieve another ambition to write a book it would highly likely feature an island and if possible I would like to live on one to write it.
So this book for me was a must buy. So in the midst of mounting daily challenges I could take myself away to Harris. The author does state that it’s not set on any particular Hebridean Island so you can take your pick but for me it’s Harris. The story is set in the present day and the early 20th century which seems to be a favourite of authors just now. The present day story is about a women who inherits a large house and estate on a Hebridean Island owned by her grandmother. It was originally her Great Great Uncle’s who was a famous painter of Glasgow Boys fame. She visits only to discover human remains in the house and that the house she wanted to turn into a hotel is in fact practically a ruin. This then takes us back 100 years to the story of the painter and his wife and from then the two stories run in parallel before you finally find the identity of the body and who in Taggart style is the murderer.
I admit here a huge amount of bias given my love of Islands but I would highly recommend this book. It’s well written compelling and real characters. I guarantee you will have met them in real life too. If you want to lose a weekend somewhere else read this book.