ISLAND WIFE: living on the edge of the wild

Island Wife, Judy Fairbairns, front cover

‘Brave, funny, poignant, beautifully written… It’s a story of the struggle to make the dream come true in a crazy tumbledown mansion in a wild corner of the most beautiful of the silvery sisters of the Hebrides…’ Elisabeth Luard, food-writer, journalist, and broadcaster

 ‘An unflinching and hugely entertaining story of  family travails  and triumphs…’ Kirsty Wark, journalist, broadcaster and author

My childhood socks were always white, my frocks ironed. Each day predictable, safe. And yet the rebel was growing in me, restless, searching. I escaped. Aged 19, I was swept off my feet by a wild adventurer and married within months. Two small children later (with three more to come) complete with Labradors, cats, a heavy horse and our hearts full of dreams, we arrived on a remote Hebridean island to begin our life on the Tapsalteerie Estate. Nothing was ever predictable again. Judy Fairbairns official author pic, Island Wife

ISLAND WIFE tells the story of Judy, who, at 19, met her Wild Pioneer. He whisked her off into an adventure, a marriage of forty years, and a life on a remote Hebridean island, where the sea-birds fly, the weather is always changing and whales swim in the deep. Along the way she bears five children, learns how to help run a rocky hill farm, a hotel, a recording studio and the first whale watching business in the UK  – all the while inventively making fraying ends meet. When her children start to leave home, things fall apart and there is sadness and joy in how she puts things back together. Judy tells her story in a clear and unique voice, in turns funny, unforgettable and intensely moving.

Judy's famous painted car (Miss Daisy)

Judy & Miss Daisy

When I read my own story I can’t believe my life has been this way. It even makes me laugh now, although it didn’t at the time and there’s the point of it.

Any woman will relate to some part, and in that moment, be freed from her self doubt, and say to herself, ‘If she can do that with grace and humour, then so can I.’ It’s not just a book, it’s the courage to keep going, to never give up. __


‘This book brings back such memories of neighbouring island years which were long ago the inspiration for the creation of Katie Morag. Judy Fairbairns captures the familiar pioneering passion of that time in the ‘60s and then takes us on the very personal subsequent journey … Humour and honesty prevail throughout and always there is the poetic backdrop of the wild landscape of the island and the wild emotions that come and go with its tides.’

Mairi Hedderwick, author of the Katie Morag series

‘First there was the romance: moving to a tiny Hebridean island with wild orchids, wilder seas and the man she loves.  Judy Fairbairns dutifully looks after livestock in bleak winters, raises five children and behaves just how the world and her husband thinks she should.  But then her own storm kicks in and blasts open a door to a whole new life.’

Sainsbury’s Magazine

‘Warm but never sentimental, Judy Fairbairns’ writing treads a deft path through difficult times. It balances wry humour and lyrical delight, practical toughness and vulnerability in equal measure. Quite apart from the human lives contained and celebrated, the light sure touch of the writing is a joy to read.’

Philip Gross, novelist and poet

‘Island Wife is a breezy (in every sense), frequently funny and often dreadfully sad tale of a madcap adventure with an intrepid farmer husband and five children on a romantic Hebridean island, which often turns out to be not quite as romantic as the wide-eyed author had imagined.’

Christopher Matthew, author and journalist

Links & Reviews:

Judy in the Scotsman ‘I surprised them all by being a jolly good farmer’s wife.’

We Love This Book ‘autobiography, nature writing and good humour’

Judy’s blog

Judy on Twitter @JudyFairbairns

Judy Fairbairns, with her agent Jenny Brown, on a recent visit to Two Roads


Judy Fairbairns, Island Wife

Judy Fairbairns, Island Wife

Island Wife, Judy Fairbairns, Argyll and Bute

11 responses to “ISLAND WIFE: living on the edge of the wild – JUDY FAIRBAIRNS”

  1. Mary-Anne Macdonald says:

    Well done We are up in Mull over Easter hope to pick up a copy. Will pass it on to Kevani.

  2. Richard Mansfield says:

    Wow! Judy! So wonderful to hear from you via Gresham’s. I now have your number and e mail so will be sending you my address for an invitation to the book-launch, please. Can’t wait to see you again and to read the book. Sounds fascinating. Well done, Judy. I retired to write but haven’t put a word down yet.

  3. Maddy says:

    Just heard you on Woman’s Hour – sadly book unavailable in the US.

  4. Robyn Scott says:

    Your book is a Gift!
    You are a True Wayfinder!!!
    Thank you

  5. Anne Greenwood says:

    Bought your book at Gairloch whilst on a major tour round Scotland. Loved your book, made laugh, cry and see similarities with my life, except 3 children, and a move to a tumbled farmhouse no electric no running water, hey ho we survived. Thank you for your story

  6. Trisha Bell says:

    Read your book from Library and LOVED every minute of it. It was so open and told a real story of a woman coping with life. I told all my friends about your book and many of them have already read and loved it.

    I hope you feel that you can write a second installment, just for the pleasure of it.

    Trisha XX

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