Cover image for The strawberry season
The strawberry season
Stirling, Jessica.
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
v, 468 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
Final volume in author's Isle of Mull trilogy.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Since the dawn of time, the Isle of Mull, off the Scottish coast, has had to fend off ferocious winds and a ravenous ocean intent on swallowing the island whole. Roughened by ceaseless storms and chill, Mull remained a quiet community, set in its ways, with almost no fodder for town gossip, as the nineteenth century drew to a close. Until, that is, new blood moved in, setting the local Campbell sisters, Innis and Biddy, against each other in all-out war for the love of the same newcomer, Michael Tarrant.

But just as the passage of time changes slightly the cragged hills of Mull, so does it soften hearts to reconciliation: the two sisters realize their bond is too thick for a man to sever. For Innis, marriage to Michael Tarrant turned out far from idyllic: he fled to seek life outside Mull, leaving Innis to raise their children. Biddy, too, has married, but still yearns for the happiness that has always slipped through her fingers. Although it has taken sixteen years for life to return to a semblance of what it was before the Tarrants arrived, something is still amiss.

Then a pregnant woman's arrival on the island turns any countryside serenity on its head. Loathed by some, loved by others, and feared as an ill omen by still others, this Fay Ludlow embodies the changes due to fall upon Mull. The winds of change at her back will bring with them ghosts of a past buried too soon.

Author Notes

Hugh C. Rae was born on November 22, 1935 in Glasgow, Scotland. After graduating from secondary school, he worked as an assistant in the antiquarian department of John Smith's bookshop. His first novel, Skinner, was published in 1963. He wrote several novels using his name including Night Pillow, A Few Small Bones, The Interview, The Shooting Gallery, The Marksman, and Harkfast: The Making of a King. He also wrote as Robert Crawford, R. B. Houston, James Albany, and Stuart Stern.

Using the pseudonym Jessica Stirling, he wrote more than 30 historical romances. He wrote the first few novels with Peggie Coghlan. However, when she retired 7 years after the first book was published, he wrote the remainder on his own. The books written under this pseudonym include The Spoiled Earth, The Constant Star, Hearts of Gold, and Whatever Happened to Molly Bloom. He died on September 24, 2014 at the age of 78.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

The conclusion of Stirling's Isle of Mull trilogy brings the story up to 1908, when the arrival of Fay Ludlow becomes the catalyst for change on this remote Scottish island, and in the lives of the two former Campbell sisters, Biddy and Innis. Fay, orphaned and pregnant, seeks shelter from her abusive husband. Biddy wants nothing to do with her, but Innis takes her in because the husband Fay escaped is none other than her son, Gavin. Fay earns her keep by planting a garden for Innis, and refurbishing the garden at Fetternish House, landholder Biddy's home. Other changes are afoot as the sheep trade dies out; people arrive to start tree farms, and a mysterious buyer wants Biddy's land. Stirling delicately weaves together the strands of her characters' lives in a tale sure to please both new readers and fans of the earlier installments, The Island Wife (1998) and The Wind from the Hills (2000). Patty Engelmann

Publisher's Weekly Review

The times they are a-changing in fin-de-sicle Scotland, as Stirling wraps up her saga of the fortunes and misfortunes of the aging Campbell sisters, Innis and Biddy, in the concluding volume of her popular Isle of Mull trilogy (after Island Wife and The Wind from the Hills). It is 1908, and shepherds are going out of fashion, the young are leaving the island for greater opportunity and even the tinkers are staying away. Into these uncertain circumstances comes Fay Ludlow, the wife of Innis's violent son, Gavin, who hasn't been seen on Mull in years. Fay, beaten by Gavin and pregnant with his child, seeks refuge among his family, who reluctantly accept her into the fold. Keeping the pregnancy a secret for as long as possible, she soon proves to be an optimist and a talented gardener, setting herself the task of growing strawberries in an unforgiving climate. Meanwhile, the future of the Campbell sisters' land is threatened when Patrick Rattenbury arrives on Mull. A representative of potential purchasers, he is a rogue who pays assiduous court to the island womenfolk, causing many a jealous conflict. Family secrets, revenge, prodigal returns, comeuppances and final confrontations round out the plot. Stirling's loving chronicle of the hopes and fears of a close-knit island community ranges wide, encompassing even the local gossips, who function as a Scottish version of a Greek chorus. True, while Innis may have "no difficulty in keeping track of the Campbells, Baverstocks and Quigleys," readers new to the series might initially. Still, for faithful fans and patient newcomers, Stirling provides a pleasing vacation into the past. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved