It’s hard to imagine how anyone would experience the world if they had been blind from birth. Widowed Marianne never saw her husband’s face or what colours are. Her world is full of sound, smells, taste and touch. One day she drops her keys on her Edinburgh doorstep and is helped by a stranger, Keir, a man from Skye who she thanks but never expects to meet again.
Of course, she does meet Keir again and he does the one thing no one else does, he isn’t apologetic towards her condition. As their relationship forms, the reader slowly learns more about Marianne’s life, what’s holding her back and how she deals with the every day. The narration is split between first person from Marianne and her sister Laura’s points of view and third person, although never Keir’s giving him that edge of mystery.
Linda has obviously done excellent research for this book. Although I will never really be able to get my head around how Marianne imagines the world she can’t see, the writing does an excellent job of conveying how important music and scent is to her. When she’s trying to get an idea if Keir is attractive, she asks him to describe the colour of his hair as if it were a smell.
It’s a slow but powerful story. When losing your bearings becomes terrifying, I don’t think you need to exaggerate events and Linda hasn’t been tempted to do that. The idea of the sensory pleasure of a remote island is an excellent one.