The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle by Kirsty Wark
Published by Two Roads Books
9th October 2014
Elizabeth Pringle lived all her long life on the Scottish island of Arran. But did anyone really know her? In her will she leaves her beloved house, Holmlea, to a stranger - a young mother she'd seen pushing a pram down the road over thirty years ago.
It now falls to Martha, once the baby in that pram, to answer the question: why?
A captivating story of the richness behind so-called ordinary lives and the secrets and threads that hold women together.
Martha is living her life in London without any worries, apart from the health of her mother who is suffering from dementia. One day she receives a letter from a solicitor advising her that an unknown woman, Elizabeth Pringle, has left her a house on the Isle of Arran in Scotland. It turns out that while on holiday on Arran, over thirty years ago, Martha's mother Anna, had written to Elizabeth asking that if ever she decided to move from her house, that she would consider selling it to her. Elizabeth Pringle never did move, but now that she is dying, she has decided to leave the house to the young woman that she once saw pushing her baby in a pram past her front door.
Martha accepts the bequest and moves over to the island to renovate the property before introducing Anna to the island. There she meets the residents of Arran, Catriona who runs the (empty) b&b, her brother Niall, and Buddhist monk Saul, all who knew Elizabeth. From these two men, Martha tries to learn more about the woman whose home she now calls her own.
The book is told in two distinct chapters, that of Martha, but also that of Elizabeth, as we learn of her life, her loves and her loss on Arran, and most importantly, why it was that she never left her home to venture to pastures new, even when she had the opportunity, as is revealed in a dramatic climax at the end of the book.
I thoroughly enjoyed this read. My ancestors used to live on Skye so I love to read about the Hebrides and the islands surrounding them. As with many books at the moment, the place itself is a central character to the plot, and Kirsty Wark certainly brings the island to life, both in Elizabeth's time and the present day. The characters are a good mix, especially rogue monk Saul, and this is a love story as well as an historical journey into one person's life.