Fifteen year old Isa Muirison loves her life working for the floating shops of Orkney at the turn of the 20th century. But her happy family life is thrown into turmoil by her father’s decision to emigrate to Canada, her sister’s illness, and her own love for Davie, a penniless whisky runner. Despite her family’s opposition, she follows Davie to his tiny island home where she is met by the fierce hostility of his mother and his childhood sweetheart, Chrissie.
Alone among strangers, Isa’s unrelenting determination gains acceptance and popularity in the close-knit community. But no one could have foreseen the tragedy that rips the heart out of that community and shatters Isa’s security... Meanwhile, Chrissie has found solace in the arms of Davie’s violent brother Jack, only to discover a darkness in his soul she could never have imagined. Events are set in motion over which the two women have no control...
Will either of them ever find peace – and in whose arms will Davie find solace? Set in the Northern isles of Scotland, amid the treacherous waters of the Pentland Firth, Follow the Dove shows how love can conquer all, and how, even in the most diverse of conditions, a community can pull together to protect its own. It describes a way of life that is authentic but gone forever. Inspired by Catherine Cookson, Jessica Stirling and Evelyn Hood, the book will appeal to women interested in historical fiction. Follow the Dove won the second prize in the novel category of the Scottish Association of Writers.
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Since first attending the AGM of the Scottish Association of Writers in 1999, Catherine Byrne has won several prized, commendations and has been short listed both for short stories and chapters of her novel. In 2009, she won second prize in the general novel category for ‘Follow The Dove.’ She has attended an Arvon Foundation course and a Hi-Arts writing program, receiving positive feedback on her work from both.
John O'Groat Journal, www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk, December 2011
Caithness Forum, December 2011
John O'Groat Journal & Caithness Courier, www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk, December 2011
Follow the Dove is a wonderful book. And Catherine Byrne a wonderful writer. She draws on the richness of her island childhood to evoke a place and a past sadly no longer with us. Her characters are believable, dramatically portrayed and they stay with you long after you have finished reading. Catherine is able to write with an emotional intensity that I love.
by Janis Mackay
I have read this book and I couldn't put it down! I loved the characters and can't wait for the sequel! It transported me to the islands of the Pentland Firth, which I have since visited, and I experienced first hand nostalgia of the hardship of generations from the past. Follow the dove is well worth reading - I would recommend it to anyone.
by neve bremner
A NEW BOOK BY LOCAL WRITER (Caithness)
"Follow the Dove" by Catherine M. Byrne - published December 2011.
I started to read "Follow the Dove" and found myself immersed at once in this compelling story so vividly written by newcomer Catherine M. Byrne from Wick.
After the first few pages I knew I had to keep going, I was desperate to know the characters better, to understand them and to get involved in the way they lived their working and private lives in very remote and sparsely populated areas.
"Follow the Dove" is a strong story and very relative to the period and the setting. The characters involved become very real. You feel their pain, frustation and anger at what life throws at them.
Many older readers, especially those from the North of Scotland and the Northern Isles, will be able to relate to this harsh way of life which existed before and for some time after the turn of the 20th century.
Catherine Byrne leads you into the islanders way of thinking, working and socialising until you believe they really existed.
Thank you Catherine for filling a space on my bookshelf with a wonderful, wonderful read; you most certainly have a winner on your hands!
Folks, do treat yourselves to this book and like me, you will be reluctant to put it down until it is finished!
by Ann M P McLeod
Catherine Byrne’s Follow the Dove depicts nineteenth century small Orkney island life through the lives of three brothers and particularly their womenfolk.
Catherine tames the optimism of their youth with the harsh reality of a claustrophobic closed island community where tuberculosis and the perils of the sea in open boats, add to the innate poverty of their subsistence living.
She skilfully adds timeless human emotions; love, lust, hate, jealousy and a tyrannical mother-in-law on top of nature’s brew to drive her characters to the limit. You really do end up feeling the pain of the women as they struggle to make happy lives for themselves and their families against the forces of abject poverty, bereavement, drunkenness and domestic violence, all too recognisable today.
At times the book reminded me of Neil Gunn’s Silver Darlings except that Catherine’s island did not benefit as much from the herring fishing which brought such optimism and prosperity to many towns on the north east coast. At that level Follow the Dove explains very well why depopulation gathered pace in the early twentieth century, leaving many islands completely uninhabited.
The book is well written and evocative. I could hear the gulls and the seals and smell the seaweed and the peat fire. I particularly liked the ending, but surely it can’t be the end? I look forward to the sequel.
by Alan Calder
Cracking page-turner! The setting comes across strongly and I couldn't help thinking it would make a great TV mini-series.
by Joe Holdsworth
The reader is introduced to Isa Muirison in the first sentence of this novel, and she becomes a window into the lives of the Muirison family, and the Ried family. ‘The first time she saw him Isa forgot to breathe.’ This sentence sets the atmosphere for the entire book. It allows the eye to naturally flow from page to page while the story of Isa’s coming of age unfolds. The narrative descriptions are used in every scene just enough to give the reader the background needed to continue, while the dialog of the characters tells the reader just how important every word is. Isa’s life is followed closely during her triumphs, disappointments, and disasters. The effects of these events and their ramifications upon those close to Isa make this book into a compelling story for every reader.
The Author, Catherin Byrne, is Scottish, and her knowledge of her country and its history comes out in every word spoken by her characters. Authentic older Scottish names, and dialog reinforce the story further, and the fact that it takes place on the islands of Kirkwall, and Raumsey, just off the coast of Scotland is the icing on the cake. This author can write. Her story remains compelling up to and including the last page. Catherin Byrne has written a novel that is worth far more than the price of the book. RB
by Reynold Bowen