The fictional Scottish island of Mure is the setting for a series of novels by Jenny Colgan, and so delightful are her descriptions of the remote setting and the colorful inhabitants that we long to visit there and see the whales in the ocean, feel the cold breezes, and marvel at the colorful buildings that line the street along the coast. In “An Island Wedding,” we revisit this magical place, based on the real islands of Orkney and Shetland, and reacquaint ourselves with many of the inhabitants who have been featured in past novels.
In this story, Flora MacKenzie is planning her wedding to Joel, who is a lawyer not from the island, and who has therefore always felt a bit of an outsider. Flora runs the lovely hotel on the island, the Rock, which is now owned by her brother. She also has an almost-one-year-old son with Joel. When a former island resident, Olivia Mathieson, returns planning her extremely posh wedding to the scion of a very, very wealthy family, Flora’s plans for a simple, small wedding of her own are effectively frustrated.
There is drama upon Olivia’s return as her sister Jan, a hateful character, does everything in her power to make Flora look bad. Joel works with Jan, and her constant sniping at Flora and Olivia’s fancy wedding threatens to undermine Flora’s relationship with Joel. Olivia is determined to have a wedding that will go viral on social media, and the descriptions of the plans truly sound amazing. In the meantime, we also revisit immigrant doctor/father Saif, who is the “official” island physician, and Lorna, who runs the small school. Those two seem to be star-crossed lovers — they must hide their relationship from most of the island.
Typical of Colgan’s novels, there is no big twist, there are no mysteries to be solved. Rather, the story is about relationships, about how we communicate and show our feelings for each other. It’s about love and respect and honoring the wishes of others. It’s about finding courage and being brave enough to act in the face of fear. And ultimately, it’s about realizing that home is where the heart is, and knowing that the place we belong is the place our family lives — geographically and spiritually. And while we are seeing the many characters in this novel unravel the tangled threads of their lives, we also get to witness how they live on this remote, wild island situated between Norway and Scotland, near the Arctic Circle, and in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s beautiful, it’s touching, and it’s certainly a perfect summer read.
Please note: This review was first posted on Bookreporter.com.