The novel explores how progress affects the family's life, sometimes in unexpected ways. The characters are all well drawn and have their own believable reactions to the changes that are on the way. There are many misunderstandings between the family and the surveyors, which sometimes become melodramatic.
For me the most enjoyable thing about the novel are the descriptions of nature. The reader feels transported to this tiny island in the middle of a moody sea:
A crack appeared in the northern cliffs. They passed a stack with a pinpoint of light in its heart that gradullay grew until the stack became an arch, and they could see the sea shining on the other side. Beyond the stack was a fissure full of tumbled boulders, and the dark mouth of a cave. Sea and sky were suddenly full of birds. A wild clamour rose from the crack and a plume of kittiwakes, far more graceful than the puffins, soared above the headland, riding the air currents. A thin ribbon of white fringed the rocks ahead. A scatter of rounded boulders suddenly turned into seals, which humped their way down to the water and dived in a series of neat splashes. A minute later, half a dozen heads surfaced close to the boat, watching the new arrivals with dark, dog like eyes.
Last year I really enjoyed reading another of Margaret Elphinstone's novels The Sea Road, you can read my review here.
As ever, text in red contains hyperlinks which take you to other websites where you can find out more.