Dan Boothby had been drifting for more than twenty years, without the pontoons of family, friends or a steady occupation. He was looking for but never finding the perfect place to land. Finally, unexpectedly, an opportunity presented itself. After a lifelong obsession with Gavin Maxwell's Ring of Bright Water trilogy, Boothby was given the chance to move to Maxwell's former home, a tiny island on the western seaboard of the Highlands of Scotland.
Island of Dreams is about Boothby's time living there, and about the natural and human history that surrounded him; it's about the people he meets and the stories they tell, and about his engagement with this remote landscape, including the otters that inhabit it. Interspersed with Boothby's own story is a quest to better understand the mysterious Gavin Maxwell.
Year of Publication
I was gripped from start to finish by Dan Boothby's ISLAND OF DREAMS... Never overdone, pretentious, self-absorbed or sentimental, it is written with skill and expertise with all the conviction and authority it needs to enthrall. The descriptive passages are traced with deep sensitivity and richly evocative of people, turning seasons, the loneliness of island life, and the enticing contours of the location. This is a fitting and poignant tribute to the enduring value of the Ring of Bright Water Trilogy, written as a personal quest of devotion and discovery. Boothby's disarmingly personal approach draws you into the thrall and mystique of Maxwell's literary landscape by revealing as much about the writer's self as weaving a love-spell to the island and its ghosts -- Miriam Darlington, author of OTTER COUNTRY This lovely book offers an elliptical portrait of the enigmatic Gavin Maxwell, and an equally elliptical portrait of its author. A delightful meditation on the impossibility of really knowing anyone, not least ourselves. -- Katharine Norbury, author of THE FISH LADDER Boothby is entranced by Gavin Maxwell, not because of otters, nor through any overt kinship with the boys who shared the writer's odd life, but because Maxwell seemed always to occupy the debatable lands between the self one knows, the self that is reflected in others and the self that only exists in the act of writing...The message - one message - of this remarkable, deceptive book is that not much stays, in any state, and that belonging, like ownership, is only ever partial and never-finished National Evocative...A lively, often funny tribute to the place and to the people he meets there...Island of Dreams shows him emerging from the shadow of his hero to become a gifted writer himself Daily Mail The writing is as crisp as the coastal air, shot through with the humour of humanity and bright animal magic Saga Island of Dreams, like its inspiration Raven Seek Thy Brother, becomes an elegy - not for a lost way of life, but for a dream tenaciously pursued and regretfully abandoned -- Ariane Bankes Literary Review The pleasure in reading Island of Dreams comes from Dan Boothby's refusal to add yet another purely self-indulgent narrative to the growing memoir canon. Instead, he seamlessly weaves wholly autobiographical elements with both biography and sense of place...Island of Dreams is not only Maxwell's story. It is a portrait of the rugged Scottish coast, the local wildlife and the people who spend at least part of the year in such harshly beautiful places. Above all, it describes how each of these facets mirrors Boothby's own search for meaning. It is thrilling to realize along with him that he has made an inspired choice... [a] fine memoir of one edge-dweller's fortuitous entwinement with the life of another Times Literary Supplement
Dan Boothby was born in 1969. He has travelled extensively, including sailing over 40,000 sea miles. Island of Dreams is his first work of creative non-fiction.