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  • Published: 7 May 2020
  • ISBN: 9781473569133
  • Imprint: Transworld Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 320

I Am An Island

Hailed 'A wondrous memoir of salt-stung survival' - Sunday Times and 'The memoir of the year' - Vogue, this is the paperback edition of the most talked about memoir of 2020.


'Memoir of the year' - Vogue

'A wondrous, sensuous memoir of salt-stung survival . . . clear-eyed and poetic prose' Sunday Times

'A fascinating memoir' - Daily Mail

When Tamsin Calidas first arrives on a remote island in the Scottish Hebrides, it feels like coming home. Disenchanted by London, she and her husband left the city and high-flying careers to move the 500 miles north, despite having absolutely no experience of crofting, or of island life. It was idyllic, for a while. But as the months wear on, the children she'd longed for fail to materialise, and her marriage breaks down, Tamsin finds herself in ever-increasing isolation.

Injured, ill, without money or friend she is pared right back, stripped to becoming simply a raw element of the often harsh landscape. But with that immersion in her surroundings comes the possibility of rebirth and renewal. Tamsin begins the slow journey back from the brink.

Startling, raw and extremely moving, I Am An Island is a story about the incredible ability of the natural world to provide when everything else has fallen away - a stunning book about solitude, friendship, resilience and self-discovery.

  • Published: 7 May 2020
  • ISBN: 9781473569133
  • Imprint: Transworld Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 320

About the author

Tamsin Calidas

Tamsin Calidas is a writer and photographer living in the wilds of the Scottish Hebrides.

She worked in various roles in advertising, publishing and the BBC before giving it all up in 2004 to move to a tiny, remote island in Scotland to run a derelict croft with sheep and horses.

Praise for I Am An Island

This is a startling book, a vivid and terrifying reminder of how an island can seduce, madden - and ultimately sustain those brave enough to endure its confines.

Madeleine Bunting, author of <i>Love of Country

An extraordinary book, a wild and redemptive account of reaching rock bottom and swimming back into the light. I'm awed by Tamsin's courage, her resilience and huge heart. Her island will stay with me for a very long time.

Olivia Laing, author of <i>The Lonely City</i> and <i>To the River

An island tale like no other. An unforgettably moving and compulsive read, steeped in anguish and beauty. A book that is unafraid to stare deep into the abyss, and still find a way forward. The story of a woman completely broken by life, and her fifteen-year struggle to find the inner strength to restore herself, through sheer determination, and by immersing herself in solitude.

Neil Ansell, author of <i>Deep Country </i>and <i>Deer Island

Completely astonishing. Using language of shimmering beauty, Tamsin Calidas describes the unravelling of a relationship with such exquisitely small stitches that the eventual thread-baring of her physical and emotional safety, her sense of identity and purpose, blows in like a cold slap of Hebridean wind. A Hardyesque, stripped back connection to the landscape emerges. And yet only with the fragmentation of everything that matters is the fragility of life transcended and restored by the triumphant pull of a determination to survive.

Juliet Nicolson

A meditative breath of fresh air. This book will fill your lungs, sting your eyes and catch in your throat. Soaring prose like birdsong over the harsh lands that compelled Tamsin Calidas to breathe deep.

Ruth Fitzmaurice, author of <i>I Found My Tribe

An extraordinary book of limitless resilience, Calidas' leaping prose is a love song to the natural world. What she achieves with an open heart and a will of iron is nothing short of remarkable.

Sarah Langford, author of <i>In Your Defence

So raw, so honest, so intense. I didn't want this book to end.

Sigri Sandberg, author of <i>An Ode to Darkness

Combining intensely beautiful nature writing with the excavation of deep emotion, this brave, startling book examines what it really means to lose yourself in nature, and in doing so find a completely new version of yourself, too. A powerful, unsettling but ultimately redemptive account of one woman's deep communion with the natural world.

Clover Stroud, author of <i>My Wild and Sleepless Nights

Any preconceptions you may entertain about 'a Londoner, tiring of the city, moves to a Scottish Island' will be smashed in the first chapter of Tamsin Calidas' astonishing, raw and clear-eyed book. Tamsin charts how she comes to terms with loss, loneliness, hardship and prejudice through immersing herself fully in her island habitat. I am an Island is a powerful, affecting book; glittering and visceral, Tamsin's clear-voiced self-reliance becomes a storm-force of nature in itself.

Nicola Chester, Nature Writer, RSPB Columnist and <i>Guardian </i>Country Diarist

Gripping...Tough yet compulsive reading, carried by crisp, vivid prose.

Amy Liptrot, author of <i>The Outrun

A beautiful book...I urge you to seek it out.

Jane Garvey

A wondrous, sensuous memoir of salt-stung survival. clear-eyed and poetic prose. Over and above everything else, I Am an Island is a hymn to the wild, full of fine observation of the natural world. A message that rings true for these testing times.

The Sunday Times

A beautifully written, emotionally intense memoir

Sunday Express

The island is a metaphor for anyone who has ever been alone... It is about what happens when everything you are used to falls away, which is something we are all experiencing at the moment.

Daily Mail

Tamsin Calidas's tale of moving to a remote Scottish croft has become a lockdown must-read. a glittering (and controversial) account.


The trials and triumphs of isolated living are laid bare in this often shatteringly honest read.

Reader's Digest

The memoir of the year...a lyrical paean to the wild beauty of the Hebrides.


The best book I have read in more than a decade. Each page is poetry. Tamsin's story is both heartbreaking and inspiring but ultimately about how the power of nature can heal. The perfect memoir for us all right now. Absolutely stunning. What an incredible woman.

Susannah Constantine

As in the case of Tara Westover's Educated, it is impossible not to marvel at all the author has been through.


A mesmeric tale of emotional resilience and the recuperative powers of the natural world... Essential reading.

The Evening Standard

The memoir of the year ... groundbreaking.


A brave, beautiful and unforgettable book - a book that overflows with love. Tamsin writes exquisitely about life, love, pain, death and rebirth and the healing power of nature. Great joy has flowed into my life from reading this. It touched me so deeply - I was moved to tears - and I could not put it down. I know it will help and greatly inspire others' lives. A sea of hands will reach for I Am An Island, carrying it like a great flock of birds, across the world. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

</i>Elena Bonham Carter

Calidas is adept at illustrating her emotional and mental state throughout her experiences, effectively using the Scottish landscape as a means to emphasise her plights and successes. This is an extremely honest account of human survival in the face of unimaginable pain and loss. So poignant and stark...Never as relevant as it is now, Calidas' battle with isolation and loneliness is both moving and inspiring. The desire for human contact and interaction is soothed by a deep kinship with nature, which remains steadfast no matter what.

Scottish Field

An utterly engrossing read.


A wonderful memoir

The Malestrom

Powerfully observed

BBC Countryfile Magazine

I was profoundly moved by I am an Island - the beauty, emotion, power and poetry of its words. As subtle as it is forceful, this is a complex and poetic account of a life lived raw. A skilful, finespun memoir which grabs you by the throat; clutches your heart and tenderly caresses your cheek in one beguiling movement. I urge you to read it.

Ulrika Jonsson

Calidas is a supple, sensuous writer - deeply empathetic... Her account is shot through with moments of intense brightness.


Calidas is a supple, sensuous writer - deeply empathic... Her account is shot through with moments of intense brightness.


Raw, painful, storm-battered writing. Here's what it means to be truly isolated.

</i>Raynor Winn

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