Back in the Fifties, Seattle vet Wally Flynn and his wife/assistant Bethine spent eight years flying the British Columbia/Alaska coast to care for ailing animals -- among them seagulls and ducks, a testy ocelot and a nasty Pekingese named Boo. But their unusual practice -- with regular stopovers at Ketchikan, Prince Rupert, Sitka, and tiny Sullivan Bay (pop. 3) -- is only half of this sincere, artless chronicle, and in many respects the lesser half. Shortly after the Flynns move to remote Nootka Island, off Vancouver Island's treacherous west coast, Wally dies of a heart attack; and plucky Bethine, middle-aged and no amazon, opts to live alone on the island. Rusted stove pipes, a plague of mice, the lack of plumbing, telephones, and roads -- these, as well as the profound solitude, fail to daunt her. She communes with Minniebelle, the moralizing grouse who occupies her window ledge; Oscar the entertaining seal; Jasper and Tessie, the minks; and two loquacious gulls, Rachel and Reuben. Her circle of friends expands to include priests, local Indians, and the inhabitants of nearby islands. She becomes adept at chopping wood, fishing, rowing -- and at the last she's even, with help, reshingling the roof. Less a log of adventure than a chatty, open-hearted celebration of the unexpected that each day brings.