A straightforward tale of the mission of Rev MacKenzie to bring religion and civilisation to the people of St Kilda. The harsh conditions in an extreme environment, with consequences like the high infant mortality, have a realistic feel. But deeper are the psychological, spiritual and relationship hurts that loneliness and stress inflict on Neil and Lizzie. The author describes them, leaving the reader to enter into their feelings.
He started as he heard her voice but did not rise. As he continued to look out to sea he was aware that her gentle devotion threatened to embrace him. Despising himself, he felt a need to deflect his sense of failure and shield himself from her love. At that moment he resented her decency as much as his own weakness. 'Our guests did not seem to enjoy their meal very much; perhaps you will be able to improve on the fare tomorrow?' he said, hoping that the cruelty would relieve his frustration and knowing that the hurt it caused could not be repaired.