The Last Summer by Karen Swan #BookReview #TheWildIsle1 #Macmillan #KindleFirstReads #5*

Opposites attract in this epic and spellbinding novel, which transports us from the untamed beauty of St Kilda to the glamour and intrigues of high society in the 1930s. The Last Summer is the first book in The Wild Isle series by Sunday Times bestseller Karen Swan, inspired by the true history of St Kilda and its small island community.

Summer on St Kilda – a wild, remote Scottish island.

Two strangers from drastically different worlds meet . . .

Wild-spirited Effie Gillies has lived all her life on the small island of St Kilda but when Lord Sholto, heir to the Earl of Dumfries, visits, the attraction between them is instant. For one glorious week she guides the handsome young visitor around the isle, falling in love for the first time – until a storm hits and her world falls apart.

Three months later, St Kilda falls silent as the islanders are evacuated for a better life on the mainland. With her friends and family scattered, Effie is surprised to be offered a position working on the Earl’s estate. Sholto is back in her life but their differences now seem insurmountable, even as the simmering tension between them grows.

And when a shocking discovery is made back on St Kilda, all her dreams for this bright new life are threatened by the dark secrets Effie and her friends thought they had left behind.

A Dazzling Story!

What a read – and this is only the beginning!

Effie and her friends have never known any different to their life on the Scottish island of St. Kilda. It’s a primitive way of living and life is hard with no luxuries – but you don’t miss what you’ve never had. When the Earl of Dumfries and his son, Lord Sholto, come to visit Effie is their guide and there is an undeniable spark between the young couple. But all too soon, the visitors have gone and only three months later the islanders leave St. Kilda for the first – and last – time in their lives. The Earl of Dumfries, aware of Effie’s skills and knowledge, offers her a job on his estate but the young lord she encounters there is very different to the Sholto she met on the island. When a shocking discovery is made back on the island, her new life is threatened.

When I began reading this one, I had no idea that it was the first in a series – and now I can hardly wait to continue with the remaining four books to come. I knew little of St. Kilda but, as it happens, I had hardly finished reading this one when the island was in the news! Now a bird sanctuary run by the National Trust for Scotland, bird flu is making the headlines. Seeing the scenery I had just read about blew me away and I would urge anyone else who reads this novel to search for St Kilda online and appreciate the sheer beauty of the place. It’s obvious that the author has carried out an enormous amount of research and, quite apart from the great enjoyment of the story, I learned such a lot! Finding out how Effie coped with the changes in her life was enthralling and I was riveted from beginning to end. Beautifully written, this is a dazzling story and one I cannot recommend highly enough. A full five sparkling stars from me!

My thanks to the publisher for my copy which I downloaded via Kindle First Reads; this is – as always – my honest, original and unbiased review.

Tags: historical fiction

Author Details

Karen Swan is the Sunday Times Top Three and international best-selling author. Her novels sell all over the world and she writes two books each year – one for the summer period and one for the Christmas season. Her books are known for their evocative locations and Karen sees travel as vital research for each story. She loves to set deep, complicated love stories within twisting plots.

The Last Summer is the first book in her five-book historical series called The Wild Isle Girls, set around the dramatic evacuation of the Scottish island St Kilda in the summer of 1930. It was partly inspired by Karen’s Scottish roots: her father’s family came from Skye, moving to Fort William where Karen was christened and where many of her family still live. Her childhood memories are full of Christmases, Hogmanay and summer holidays spent in the Highlands and she was married there in 2001.

She lives in Sussex with her husband, three children and two dogs.

  • Twitter: @KarenSwan1
  • Facebook: @KarenSwanAuthor
  • Instagram: @swannywrites

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