Friday, 28 December 2018

Secrets Of Islay by Robert Kroeger

The Secrets of Islay - Golf, Marathons and Single Malt by Robert Kroeger
Published by Virtual Bookworm in December 2014.

One of my Top Ten Books for IndiePrideDay 2016.

How I got this book:
Received a free copy from the author

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The story begins with seven people enjoying a single malt tasting in a distillery on Islay, a small Gaelic-speaking community in Scotland's Inner Hebrides. Their challenge is to solve the puzzle, "quid est veritas." One of the group, Caballo Blanco, a re-invented version of the original, has an idea that might unearth answers: to stage a golf tournament and marathon on the island. The golf and marathon are successful but do the seven find the answers?

I was lucky to be informed of a limited time opportunity to download a free copy of Secrets Of Islay by Robert Kroeger through the Goodreads group Read Scotland 2015 Challenge. This book was my fourth towards my goal of eight reads for that year's Challenge.

I didn't realise that Secrets Of Islay was a factual book when I downloaded it. It recounts the efforts of one man to organise two linked sporting events on Islay, a golf tournament and a marathon race, and in the process to discover the truth of life while tasting a lot of drams of good whisky. I know nothing about golf, other than how to snigger at the clothing, and have never been a whisky drinker unless it was in a Whisky Mac (whisky mixed with ginger wine) which I'm sure would horrify the purists. However, at the time of reading, I liked to consider myself a runner so hoped to at least understand the marathon part of the tale.

Kroeger manages to interestingly include a lot of Islay history within his pages and I enjoyed learning about past events that have shaped the island's people. Most of this information is imparted using the device of direct speech with Kroeger apparently reporting extensive monologues word for word. However, all the speakers have exactly the same style of rehearsed 'talk show' speech with no individualism. I did find this disconcerting at first. I appreciated the addition of clear colour photographs throughout the book. I haven't seen that in an ebook before and it is a nice touch.

Secrets Of Islay is quietly inspirational. It doesn't shout like an improvement manual, but has a strong message of getting off thou bum in order to make the most of life. The quotes and poems at the start of each chapter are well chosen, indeed the first, Warning by Jenny Joseph, was a favourite quote of my Mum's. Sadly she didn't live long enough to wear purple. I will almost definitely not take up golf as a result of this book, but Iat the time of reading I was encouraged to make more effort with my running and I would still like to visit beautiful Islay one day, maybe even to cheer on the marathon runners!

Etsy Find!
by Elspeth Ceramics in
Glasgow, Scotland

Click pic to visit Etsy Shop

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Robert Kroeger / Biography and memoir / Books from America

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