Review: The Lights of St. Kilda by Elisabeth Gifford

The Lights of St. Kilda by Elisabeth Gifford

Publication Date: March 5, 2020

Genre: Historical Fiction

A sweeping novel set on the Scottish island of St Kilda, following the last community to live there before it was evacuated in 1930.

When Fred Lawson takes a summer job on St Kilda in 1927, little does he realise that he has joined the last community to ever live on that desolate, isolated island. Only three years later, St Kilda will be evacuated, the islanders near-dead from starvation. But for Fred, that summer is the bedrock of his whole life...

Chrissie Gillies is just nineteen when the researchers come to St Kilda. Hired as their cook, she can't believe they would ever notice her, sophisticated and educated as they are. But she soon develops a cautious friendship with Fred, a friendship that cannot be allowed to develop into anything more...

Years later, to help deal with his hellish existence in a German prisoner of war camp, Fred tells the tale of the island and the woman he loved, but left behind. And Fred starts to wonder, where is Chrissie now? And does she ever think of him too?



"So it is, we fall in love with the impossible, break our hearts pining for a dream."

A beautifully written story of love and heartbreak set on the remote islands of St. Kilda, Elisabeth Gifford sweeps you away with her lyrical writing and captivating tale in The Lights of St. Kilda.

I spent a glorious weekend reading this exquisite novel and I have zero regrets! I was captivated from start to finish.

The book alternates between 1927 and 1940 and follows the lives of Chrissie, who lives on the island of Hirta, which is the main island in the chain, and of Fred, a student who visited the island to do a geological survey for a project for Cambridge.

In the 1940 timeline, Chrissie recounts her life on the island to her daughter Rachel while Fred talks about his experience there to pass the time while he was a prisoner in a German prison camp. Chrissie now lives on the mainland and listens to the radio every day, desperate for news of Fred. Thoughts of Chrissie are the only thing keeping Fred going as he escapes from his captors and fights his way home. Will he ever see her again?

"It was your face that had stayed with me as we fought in France. It was you who'd sustained me when we were hungry and without sleep for nights as we fought the retreating action back towards the Normandy coast."

I loved, loved, love this book and cannot wait to pick up more from Elisabeth Gifford! Highly recommended.

About the Author

Elisabeth Gifford grew up in a vicarage in the industrial Midlands. She studied French literature and world religions at Leeds University. Her bestselling novel, Secrets of the Sea House, was shortlisted for the Historical Writers' Association's Debut Crown for Best First Historical Novel in 2014. She is married with three children, and lives in Kingston upon Thames.


  1. Thanks for the blog tour support Amy xx

  2. I have not heard of this book, but it is one I'm sure I would enjoy. I just added it to my Want to Read list on Goodreads.


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