Tuesday, 5 October 2021

Read in 2021 - 13: St Kilda Fever

St. Kilda Fever
by FMT Macdonald

Many of you know Graham from Eagleton Notes; if you are not yet among his regular readers, I can recommend his blog as it always makes for a good read and often provides food for thought. 

Some time last year, he mentioned a book written by a friend of his, a novel set on the Outer Hebrides in the 1970s, the place where Graham lives and the time when he first arrived there. He said that island life at that time was very well depicted in the book, and I found it all very interesting.
Imagine my delight and surprise when, some time later, I received that very book in the mail!

It took me so long to get round to reading it (you are all familiar by now with the neverending story about my eyes), but I managed to finish it just before O.K. and I set off for our holiday in the mountains last month.

St. Kilda Fever is about a woman who takes up work as a GP on the Isle of Lewis. She is the first woman there to ever hold that job, and it takes her and the islanders a bit of getting used to each other and their different ways.

One night, Helen finds an injured man in her barn. Her duty as a doctor is to take care of him, but when she finds out that he is a Russian spy (remember: the Cold War was in full swing back then), she faces a dilemma. Should she hand him over to the police, or make sure he gets well and help him going back to Russia?

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, even though I did not always sympathise with the heroine's actions. The staff of characters are nicely fleshed out; the reader can imagine them very well, same as Helen's house, the surgery where she works and all the other places mentioned.

The story line is straightforward and does not really hold surprises; it made for good bedtime reading for me, and I soon cared enough about Helen for wanting to know what was going to happen next.
FMT Macdonald has written a second book about Helen, and I definitely want to read that as well.

A small note about editing: There were frequent minor mistakes, such as a preposition or an article left out in a sentence; never to the point of taking away from the pleasure of reading the story, but the book would have profited from a bit more thorough editing. As usual, that's just me being picky, so don't let it stop you from reading St Kilda Fever.

You can find out more about the author here on Amazon (where, of course, you can also buy her books).

Once again: Thank you, Graham, for your kind surprise gift!


  1. You are very welcome, Meike. I thought that you'd like t know a bit more about 'old Lewis'. The first book (self published) did suffer from some editorial errors despite so many people 'lending a hand' in proof reading. With the best will in the world it needs a professional to catch everything. I don't think it's easy to be sympathetic towards the principal character but the thing is that she is a potential amalgamation of some of the weaker traits of real people as well as some of their better ones. I shall send your review to Fiona.

    1. Thank you for forwarding my review, Graham. If I get round to it, I will also post it (minus the references to your blog etc.) on Amazon.
      Yes, proofreading needs professionally trained eyes - and even they may not always detect every last error. Like I said, the errors do not take away from the actual reading pleasure.

  2. Replies
    1. You are welcome, Pat. I know you read a lot, and can imagine you enjoying this.

  3. Thanks for the good review. I will check with my library about it!

    1. It would be nice if more libraries stocked independently published books like this one, Ellen!

    2. You're right. It isn't available over here. Oh well! Lots of others to read! :)

  4. I've read both books and enjoyed them for the "island atmosphere". (I've never been to the Hebrides myself, but felt like I recognized a lot both from Graham's blog and from other books, especially the Lewis trilogy by Peter May.)

    1. I know you and Graham have read Peter May's books, and I enjoyed the reviews you posted. So far, I have not gotten round to reading them myself.