My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Is this book really fiction? Or is it fact? Or is it what many people now call faction?
For me, in my tiny mind, it became reality. This was down to Horwood’s terrifically powerful story-telling. He captivated me completely and I really believed the events that he was describing, even down to the conversations between the eagles.
As is the case with Skallagrigg, there are two intertwined stories in this book, which eventually bind together.
I came to love Jim MacAskill Stonor: a confused boy growing up in a dysfunctional family in Deal (shades of The Boy with No Shoes), a man overcoming many difficulties, a great artist who draws, paints and sculpts eagles.
I came to love Cuillin: the last great sea eagle of Skye, who makes it to the coast of Norway and dedicates the rest of her life to returning her kind to the mountains which gave her her name.
I came to love the people, well most of them, who surrounded Jim through his trials and tribulations. And I came to love the sea eagles, well most of them, who flew with and against Cuillin and her offspring.
But I really did believe in the tales that I was reading. I became emotionally involved. I even shed a few tears from time to time.
What greater testimony can a writer have for his work?
So, I can hear you asking me, “Why didn’t you give The Stonor Eagles five gleaming stars?”
The answer is that I found it very heavy going. It is 600 pages of condensed print. Reading this book was genuinely tiring. As my favourite reading time is between when my head finally hits the pillow at night and when I turn over to go to sleep, I could usually only manage to get through a few pages per session. So it took me a long time to read. But it was worth it. I thoroughly recommend this book to all of my friends.
I already want to read it again! Alas. I have too many books on my to-read pile, and must move on.