Living on the ‘Blue Planet’ we are all living on one kind of island or another. In Island Dreams, Gavin Francis, a doctor from Edinburgh, explores the freedom that islands can offer and the benefits to life and well-being. He likens island hopping to “discovering a good book and living in its pages before moving on to another island”, taking the reader from the north past Iceland and the Arctic to the far reaches of the south from the southern most tip of America to the Antarctic.
Francis spent time restoring an old mission building in Greenland meeting a group of international students while enjoying the freedom of solitude. He has a particular affinity with small islands in the Atlantic Ocean and chose to live and work in Orkney to experience the longer term effects of Island living. Of this beautiful island he writes: “Gradually the haar would lift and the sun’s heat would become gently offset by a breeze”. The reader can almost feel the sun through his words.
He tells of the history, myths and strange truths about the places and people he visits. As a doctor the clear juxtaposition of life in a hospital and the escape to remote islands emphasises the need in many people in most walks of life for time to stop and reflect in beautiful surroundings and rethink life choices.
This is a book to be read at leisure, slowly savouring the descriptive text. It reads like excerpts from a diary written in prose which sounds like poetry. It is both uplifting and relaxing and takes the reader to a place of solitude where they may discover their own particular passion.
Francis’ other keen interest is for maps and the book is interspersed with ancient and artistic copies of how the world was once depicted. It is a travel book like no other which will appeal to lovers of poetry, lovers of travel and almost everyone who lives on an island.