In a damp Atlantic archipelago

Love of Country: A Hebridean Journey
by Madeleine Bunting
(Granta, £18.99)
Towards the end of this book, which is in part about home and where its boundaries lie, Madeleine Bunting meets a man who returned to the island of Harris after a career as a dentist in Glasgow to follow the trade of his uncle: “I weave every day,” he says, “and it’s a way of honouring the past.”

Bunting’s book is itself a skilful exercise in weaving, drawing together memories of childhood holidays in the Highlands, the literature and history of the Hebrides and her own journeys over six years through “the damp Atlantic archipelago of the British Isles”.

Those journeys were coming to a close when Scotland voted on independence, a question that seemed to have been settled at least for a while in 2014 and now, after the referendum vote for Brexit, is very much alive again. It’s one that lends the book power and poignancy. Bunting, brought up as English and British, is sympathetic to the nationalist cause, but also believes that a Britain without Scotland would be “impoverished in countless ways”. MK

This review appeared first in The Daily Telegraph