Released on 10 September 2015.

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Island of Dreams

A Personal History of a Remarkable Place

3.8 based on 80 ratings & 19 reviews on


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.
Beautifully written and frequently leavened with a dry wit, Island of Dreams is a charming celebration of the particularities of place.

In the media

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
The writing is as crisp as the coastal air, shot through with the humour of humanity and bright animal magic
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