It is impossible, for me at least, to adequately review this book within the limit of five hundred words.
Isabella’s inquiring, intelligent mind, coupled with a broad experience of life, has resulted in these wide ranging memories.
She was born into, and brought up in, the fishing community of the North-east of Scotland in the days when hard work was no guarantee of financial success.
Her mother was a Brocher; her father a “Buckie Blaaver,” as natives of Buckie were once were called. Their marriage, between two fisherfolk of different ports and of the same Christian faith was typical of those days. Isabella’s account of her parents and grandparents, their lives and loves is sensitively written and a valuable, lasting testimony of those times.
Focussing on her family, she faced and overcame difficulties as they arose. Later in life, though by then a single parent, she was able to pursue her education, first in taking her Highers, then a University degree and thereafter a teaching career.
Education gave her a good literary style; and the book is very readable with an excellent turn of phrase.
As someone interested in the social history of the North-east fisher community I found a number of little gems stirring my memory. Reminiscing about these days, she recalls the simple, yet real pleasure of singing Sankey hymns with friends and family around the organ at home on a Sunday evening. A custom once so much a feature of that fisher life and an inspiration to the menfolk, as later they sailed, “Back O’ Sunday” or on Monday morning.
She refers to the “Hielanmen’s Breeze,” all but forgotten now, and the importance of Highland and Hebridean men and women, to the East coast herring fishery.
We are reminded too that education was once seen as a sure escape from fisher toil, ashore and afloat. Families would often ensure that one member at least was given that opportunity.
The book however, goes far beyond that fisher background and, as a detailed record of a North-east girl’s ultimate triumph over the vicissitudes of life, her growing experience of the wider world, her pleasure and satisfaction in bringing up her family, her tales of holidays and friends, is well worth reading.
Soft back copies of the book are available for sale at £15 per copy plus P&P from the Buchan Observer Office, 28 Seagate, Peterhead or by telephoning 01779 472017.