Thursday, October 20, 2011

{review} two in the western isles

Mabel Esther Allan, Two in the Western Isles (1956)


Mabel Esther Allan wrote 130 books for children/young adults (wiki) but has pretty much sunk without a trace nowadays. I fell in love with her It Happened in Arles {REVIEW}, many many years ago but have only got around to reading another of her works more recently. Her books evoke a kinder time in which to be young, especially, as in Two in the Western Isles, if you happen to have been carted off to a freezing island in the Outer Hebrides (the Western Isles) away from the strains of modern life.

Tory and Jess are carted off to Milvanaig by their parents who seek a sea-change rather more drastic than the girls had envisaged:
"Oh, well, I don't suppose we'll go far. We'll be able to come in for the day and our friends can come out and visit us. I expect it'll be Bucks or perhaps Oxfordshire. Anyway, whatever we feel about it we'll have to look as though we like it."
"I know," agreed Tory, signing. "After all, it will be wonderful for Father and Mother. Father was told years ago that if only he could give more time to painting he'd be famous quite soon, but he wouldn't risk making it his career because of us. And Mother's awfully bored with writing tripey novels, though they do so well. I shouldn't be surprised if 'Sylvie Forrest' died for a time and she wrote something quite different; the sort of book she's dreamed about."
As you can see, they are a pair of plucky girls with a strong streak of moral good sense. These are the girls in whom Mabel Esther Allan specialised.

Once stuck on Milvanaig they discover that the previous owner was not at all popular with the locals and they are treated with suspicion as English interlopers. As is typical of books of this sort, the girls find themselves a local mystery (involving folk song!), save a life and wind up with half the island's inhabitants in their living room during a ferocious storm - ensuring that everyone lives happily ever after.

You know, it's just a nice little book. Sometimes that's enough.

Rating: 6/10.

If you liked this... well there's those other 129 Mabel Esther Allan books. Some have been reprinted by Fidra Books. I Prefer Reading has reviewed Allan's only adult book (Murder at the Flood) here.

2 comments:

  1. I think that sounds like heaven and will look out for it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm definitely going to track down some more. I love that mix of travel/mystery/innocence.

    ReplyDelete

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