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Island Wife: living on the edge of the wild

Judy Fairbairns

8 Reviews

Rated 0

Autobiography: general, Memoirs, Prose: non-fiction

A memoir of a woman's life on a remote Scottish island - from 19-year-old girl to wife of one to mother of five, hotelier, domestic miracle worker, to empty nester to writer.

My childhood socks were always white, my frocks ironed. Each day predictable, safe. I escaped. Aged 19, I was swept off my feet by a wild adventurer and married within months. Two small children later (with three more to come) complete with Labradors, cats, a heavy horse and hearts full of dreams, we arrived on a remote Hebridean island to begin our life on the Tapsalteerie Estate. Nothing was ever predictable again.

ISLAND WIFE tells the story of Judy, who, at 19, met her Wild Pioneer. He whisked her off into an adventure, a marriage of forty years, and a life on a remote Hebridean island. Along the way she bears five children, learns how to run a rocky hill farm, a hotel, a recording studio and the first whale watching business in the UK - all the while inventively making fraying ends meet. When her children start to leave home, things fall apart and there is sadness and joy in how she puts things back together. Judy tells her story in a clear and unique voice, in turns funny, unforgettable and intensely moving.

When I read my own story I can't believe my life has been this way. It even makes me laugh now, although it didn't at the time and there's the point of it. Any woman will relate to some part, and in that moment, be freed from her self doubt. 'If she can do it, so can I, and with grace and with humour.' It's not just a book, it's the courage to keep going, to never give up.

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Praise for Island Wife: living on the edge of the wild

  • An unflinching and hugely entertaining story of family travails and triumphs. - Kirsty Wark

  • A sensitive, brave and honest look at a life lived in the wake of others' needs. - The Daily Mail

  • This is exceptional. It is beautifully written with important things to say about how we value life, our relationships and our surroundings. - BBC Countrylife Magazine

  • First there was the romance: moving to a tiny Hebridean island with wild orchids, wilder seas and the man she loves. Judy Fairbairns dutifully looks after livestock in bleak winters, raises five children and behaves just how the world and her husband thinks she should. But then her own storm kicks in and blasts open a door to a whole new life. - Sainsbury's Magazine

  • This true story is one of stoicism, adventure and family in the face of adversities that threaten to wreck her dreams. - The Daily Express

  • This is a frequently beautiful autobiography that may well become a lifebelt for the thousands of women who find themselves drowning in the confusing storms that so often attend being a mother, wife and hard-working professional. - Herald Scotland

  • Extraordinary. - Woman & Home

  • In this delightfully warm, frank memoir, Judy Fairbairns describes the ups and downs of life on a Scottish island estate. Full of humour and wisdom, this is also Judy's own story, and a touching and uplifting one at that. Her vibrancy - obvious at even the most testing of times - is evident on every page. - Good Book Guide

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Judy Fairbairns

Judy Fairbairns has lived on her Scottish island with her husband since 1978. Married now for 40 years, she has five children, all grown up - one of whom runs the whale watching business she and her husband started. Island Wife is her first book.

Read Judy's blog at

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