Peter May is the author of many books, including a trilogy set in Lewis, an Isle in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. I became a huge admirer after reading the Blackhouse, the first of the trilogy. Now that I have completed all three, I am more convinced than ever that May is one of the best writers of our time. His writing is sensitive and his plots are intricate. Interestingly, I recently learned that the Blackhouse was rejected by all the major British publishers to whom he submitted it. However, some while later, after May left the UK to live in France, he sent it to his French publisher who immediately acquired world rights. This extract from Wikipedia describes what happened next: “The book was hailed as “a masterpiece” by the French daily newspaper L’Humanité and was immediately nominated for several literary awards in France. It won the Prix des Lecteurs at Le Havre’s Ancres Noires Festival in 2010 and won the French national literature award, the Cezam Prix Littéraire Inter CE …. The Blackhouse went on to be published all over Europe and was bought by British publishers Quercus.” It appeared in 2011 and won major awards in the UK and the US.
In describing his books, reviewers use such words as “Magical”, “Spell-binding”, “Haunting”. Then there is this marvellous accolade from a New York Times Reviewer, “Peter May is a writer I would follow to the ends off the earth.”A reviewer for the Independent wrote: “This is the sort of novel that will have the reader relishing every tendency of description and characterization… A perfectly formed trilogy.”
To tempt you further into reading this splendid set of books, here are some quotes from the Lewis Man, the second in the trilogy:
“When you are young a year is a big part of your life and seems to last for ever. When you are old, there have been too many of them gone before and they pass all too fast. We move so slowly away from birth, and rush so quickly to death.”
“and the moment was gone, carried off in the wind with their words.”
“of a view, Fin thought, to take with you to eternity: the smudged and shadowed blue of distant mountains beyond the yellow of the Scarista sands; the ever-changing light from a never-resting sky; the constant refrain of the wind, like the voices of the faithful raised in praise of the Lord.”
Final word and a small confession: Instead of reading the last book, The Chessmen, I listened to it. The wonderful Scottish accent hugely enhanced the magnificent reading by Peter Forbes. I warmly recommend readings for fellow octogenarians.