THE ISLAND WIFE by Jessica Stirling


Email this review


In the first installment of Stirling's (The Marrying Kind, 1996, etc.) latest trilogy, the cataclysmic year of 1878 for the Campbell family sets the stage for an ongoing saga of lust, greed, and other challenges on a rural Scottish island. Though they're landholders, the Campbells spend strenuous days tending to their own cattle, farming, and fishing. And though Ronan is a drunken husband and father to the five Campbell children, it's Vassie who owns the land and attempts to guide the destiny of her children. When shepherd Michael Tarrant is spotted on the horizon, the beginning of the end is near for the hard-earned pleasures of the family. Not only does the shepherd signify the modern changes about to transform the island, but he catches the eye of two of the Campbell girls, the ravishing Biddy and the thoughtful Innis. The story progresses at a clip with each daughter falling for Michael (though it's really Biddy who scandalously wins his sexual favors) while the youngest, Aileen, touched in the head, is made pregnant by her tippling dada (she believes the fairies did it). Biddy breaks off with Michael just in time to be courted by the lord of the estate, leaving a door open for Innis--who still pines for the shepherd's affection. The travails of the three girls are offset by the tragic bootlegging scheme of the two boys and their father, leaving Vassie, by novel's end, euphemistically childless, landless, and husbandless. Standard fare for the historical genre, though admittedly enticing.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1998
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: St. Martin's