Wednesday 23 August 2023

Guest Review: The Summer Skies by Jenny Colgan

Born into a family of successful pilots, Morag is used to flying high. But when a tragic accident above the clouds grounds her, could the future she'd always imagined be suddenly out of reach?

When she receives a call telling her that her beloved grandfather has been taken ill, Morag leaves her fast-paced life in London to return home to the tranquil Scottish Highlands. With her grandfather out of action, Morag has no choice but to take over flying the local route in his rickety old plane, ferrying locals across the beautiful islands of the archipelago.

But as the weather takes a dramatic turn, Morag is forced to crash-land on a remote island and suddenly finds herself far from civilisation and all alone. Then she discovers Gregor, the gruff and reclusive ornithologist taking care of the island for the season. Though the pair don't see eye to eye, Morag is forced to seek shelter at his cabin and it seems the pair are stuck together until help arrives. However long that may be . . .

As she awaits rescue, might Morag discover that a remote Scottish island, cut off from real-life, is exactly the place she needs to be?

It seems a while since I discovered a new release from Jenny Colgan. I have always enjoyed her books that I have read in the past and looked forward to starting this one. I chose the audiobook format this time, having noted that the narrator was one whose performance I have very much enjoyed previously. For readers of other formats, there are handy maps at the beginning of the book depicting the Scottish Islands referred to in the story. There is also an interesting foreword from the author with some background into where the story began.  

The story concerns Morag McGinty, a pilot who has had a ‘near-miss’ and is wondering whether she will fly again. When her grandfather falls ill, she finds herself returning to her former home in the remote Scottish islands, flying his tired old plane transporting mainly locals, and sometimes even their livestock, among an archipelago of small islands. However, when she has to crash land on the beach of one of those islands in an emergency, she finds herself marooned there with Gregor, a rather dour ornithologist who is manning the station for the summer. What at first seems disastrous for Morag being cut off without power or such luxuries as the TV and internet soon begins to appeal as she unwinds and Gregor’s icy demeanour gradually begins to thaw. Will she actually want to return to the life she knew before and the plans she had made for her future?

I quickly became immersed in this book and would recommend it to other readers. It wasn’t clear what direction the story was going to take and I liked that it kept me guessing. I have always appreciated Jenny Colgan’s style of writing, and, as usual, this story is full of her quiet humour alongside the more serious aspects of Morag’s struggle to see what her future might look like. Before landing on an island that she shared with little else than Gregor, a few chickens and a goat, she was sure of what would make her happy, but being forced to accept the lack of technology and what she considered creature comforts made her see things slightly differently. I’m sure quite a few readers will envy her this chance to destress, although maybe they would not choose to do it in the midst of a raging storm! I loved watching as the real characters of Morag and Gregor gradually emerged during their time on the small island, and was definitely willing Morag to listen to her heart and make the right choice. 

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