#BookReview The Island of Sheep by John Buchan #ReadJB2019

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The Island of SheepAbout the Book

Twelve years on from the last novel in which he featured, Richard Hannay, now in his fifties, is called by an old oath to protect the son of a man he once knew, who is also heir to the secret of a great treasure. Helped by old friends, Sandy Arbuthnot, now Lord Clanroyden, and Lombard, the action takes place in England, Scotland and on the Island of Sheep.

Format: Hardcover (343 pages)    Publisher: Nelson
Publication date:  1962 [1936]     Genre: Adventure

Find The Island of Sheep on Goodreads


My Review

The Island of Sheep is the final book in my Buchan of the Month reading project for 2019. You can find out more about the project and my reading list for 2019 here and read my (spoiler-free) introduction to The Island of Sheep here.

The book is dedicated to John Buchan’s son, Johnnie: “To J.N.S.B. who knows the Norlands and the ways of the wild geese”. In the book, Peter John, son of Mary and Richard Hannay, shares many of Johnnie’s interest in birds, nature and wild places.

The book opens with Hannay feeling a little too settled and comfortable in his life at Fosse Manor in the Oxfordshire countryside. Fosse Manor resembles Buchan’s own family home, Elsfield, and perhaps Hannay’s restlessness reflects Buchan’s own feelings as he contemplated his forthcoming role as Governor General of Canada.

The oft-quoted line from the classic film Casablanca – “Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine” – comes to mind as Hannay has chance encounters with an old friend, Lombard, from his days in Rhodesia, and shortly afterwards with the son of the man, Haraldsen, to whom – along with Lombard and former comrade, Peter Pienaar – he swore an oath to come to his aid should he ever be required.

Other characters from previous novels turn up including a villain from South America and Hannay’s old friend, Sandy Arbuthnot, who once again demonstrates the mastery of disguise for which he is renowned, although some suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader may be required in one particular case.

The story builds to a dramatic climax on the isolated Island of Sheep as there is a final reckoning between Haraldsen’s son and his allies, and the gang of baddies pursuing him. Peter John and Anna (Haraldsen’s daughter) play an important role in events and knowledge of the habits of wildlife proves crucial.

The Island of Sheep is an engaging adventure set in some interesting locations. A lovely book on which to end a year of reading the works of John Buchan.

In three words: Entertaining, action, adventure

Try something similarThe Dancing Floor by John Buchan (read my review here)

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John BuchanAbout the Author

John Buchan (1875 – 1940) was an author, poet, lawyer, publisher, journalist, war correspondent, Member of Parliament, University Chancellor, keen angler and family man.  He was ennobled and, as Lord Tweedsmuir, became Governor-General of Canada.  In this role, he signed Canada’s entry into the Second World War.   Nowadays he is probably best known – maybe only known – as the author of The Thirty-Nine Steps.  However, in his lifetime he published over 100 books: fiction, poetry, short stories, biographies, memoirs and history.

You can find out more about John Buchan, his life and literary output by visiting The John Buchan Society website.

buchan of the month 2019

#TopTenTuesday Favourite Books I Read In 2019

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.

The rules are simple:

Each Tuesday, Jana assigns a new topic. Create your own Top Ten list that fits that topic – putting your unique spin on it if you want. Everyone is welcome to join but please link back to That Artsy Reader Girl in your own Top Ten Tuesday post. Add your name to the Linky widget on that day’s post so that everyone can check out other bloggers’ lists. Or if you don’t have a blog, just post your answers as a comment.

This week’s topic is Favourite Books I Read In 2019. This is always the hardest topic of the year for me because I find it so difficult to pick just ten titles from all the great books I’ve read this year. I suspect I’m not alone. All the books in my list got the full five stars but there were others that did as well. For a complete list of all the books I read in 2019, along with my star ratings, click here. Links from the book titles will take you to my review.


Nemesis by Rory Clements (published by Zaffre) – the third book in the Tom Wilde historical mystery series

Eagle & Crane by Suzanne Rindell (published by Allison & Busby) – a fantastic story, beautifully told

The Phoenix of Florence by Philip Kazan (published by Allison & Busby) – a powerful and immersive historical mystery set in 16th Italy

Where the Hornbeam Grows: A Journey In Search Of A Garden by Beth Lynch (published by W & N) – an insightful and moving memoir

The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey (published by Simon & Schuster) – an intense and heart-breaking story of love and loss

Fled by Meg Keneally (published by Zaffre) – compelling and dramatic

Hudson’s Kill by Paddy Hirsch (published by Corvus) – the second book in the Justice Flanagan historical crime series

This Mortal Boy by Fiona Kidman (published by Gallic Books) – moving and thought-provoking story based on true events

The Mermaid’s Call by Katherine Stansfield (published by Allison & Busby) – the third in the Cornish Mysteries series

The Mathematical Bridge by Jim Kelly (published by Allison & Busby) – the second in the Nighthawk historical crime series set in WW2 Cambridge

I think you can probably tell from my choices that I love a good historical crime mystery and that there a couple of publishers who know exactly the kind of books I like to read!

What were your favourite books of 2019?