Island on the Edge – A Life on Soay by Anne Cholawo

What’s the story?

The book is a first person account from Anne Cholawo who made the big move from city life in London to secluded living on the Island of Soay. In the 1980’s, Anne was working in a busy advertising agency when she was holidaying in the Hebrides in 1989. In the estate agents she noticed an advert for a property in the Island of Soay which was nearby. She adored the island after visiting and after seven months moved there permanently. The book details Anne’s dramatic lifestyle change which came with moving to the Island and how she coped. She tells the story of how her and husband dealt without mains of electricity, medical services and shops – and with only a handful of other inhabitants on the island.


The book, as well as detailing the experiences of Anne (herself) also accompanies this with some inspiring detail about the landscapes and wildlife which reside on the Island. The book is incredibly easy reading and is written in a chatty tone with short chapters which makes it a pleasant read.


The story can often become slow at some points (for example in-depth descriptions of boats).


The book would appeal to those who are interested in reading about the beautiful Scottish Hebrides and learn more about the isolated lifestyle which living on an Island like Soay would provide. Those who are looking to make a move around Scotland may also be interested in the book, even if it isn’t quite to the same degree as Anne’s move.

Read a sample chapter here

Chapter 1 Islands on the edge


In conclusion, The Island on the Edge is a very enjoyable read with some quirky stories amongst .The book successfully describes a great sense of achievement as Anne continues to enjoy life on Soay. The book is very down to earth and honest – giving a real account of the experiences of moving to near isolation in the Scottish Hebrides.

Island on the Edge – A Life on Soay By Anne Cholawo, published by Birlinn, £12.99.

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