The beautiful, lyrical writing of Philip Marsden shines in The Summer Isles: A Voyage Of The Imagination.

This small group of Scottish islands, off Scotland’s north-west coast, captivated writer Philip Marsden when he and his aunt looked upon them from the tops of mountains they loved to climb in the Highlands.

Decades after his aunt’s death, he sets sail in a beautiful wooden boat from his home in Cornwall, up the west coast of Ireland, through the Hebrides, to try to reach those islands of his imagination.

Sailing single-handed, he tackles the full force of the Atlantic, hopping from island to island exploring early Irish and Scottish history and ancient traditions relating to pilgrims, penitents and saints, learning the stories and songs, myths and legends and their place in the Celtic tradition.

Spectator reviewer Sara Wheeler says she ‘greatly enjoyed’ the book.

She says: ‘The ballast of the book, keeping the poetic musings afloat, concerns cleats and winches, fenders and bowlines, the tyranny of the depth-sounder and the banshee scream of wind in the stays. When things go wrong, as they do in chapter four, the book reads like a thriller.’

Philip Marsden is the award-winning author of a number of works of travel, fiction and non-fiction, including The Bronski House, The Spirit-Wrestlers and The Levelling Sea.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and his work has been translated into 15 languages. After years of travelling, he now lives on the tidal upper reaches of the River Fal in Cornwall with his wife, children and various boats.

He’ll be giving an illustrated talk at the Electric Palace on Friday 8 November at 10am.