Title: Notes from a Very Small Island
Author: Anthony Stancomb
Genre: Travel Writing, Travel Memoir
Notes from a Very Small Island is the book for anyone wanting to read about life on a Croatian Island, or indeed anyone who is thinking about going to live a backwater.
A follow-up to the bestselling ‘Under a Croatian Sun’, it tells the story of a couple upping sticks and leaving their humdrum life in London for blue skies and café life on an island in Croatia.
In this latest book, the couple continue their attempts to fit in with the village community, but it’s not always easy, and more often than not their endeavours involve them in disaster. They to start up various projects, and find themselves battling with maddening ex-communist authorities as well as highly suspicious locals, but through this, they get to understand the crippling legacy that communism and the recent war have left in the lives of their new neighbours.
This is a book for anyone who has a house abroad – or who has ever dreamed of having one – and it is particularly a book for anyone who is thinking of embarking on a new life somewhere different.
Although the book is a light hearted account, it is also a heartfelt insight into a society trying to adjust the ways of the Western World.
Have you always dreamt of moving to some exotic island and living like the locals? Think it’s all sunshine and roses? Not exactly… just ask Anthony and Ivana Stancomb. After falling in love with the island of Vis (off the coast of Croatia), they uprooted their life and belongings to live like the locals.
Told in vignettes, Anthony pulls back the curtain and reveals the truth behind living in Vis. From his voyage by ship (along with his lovely wife), worrying about whether their fragile belongings will make the trek in one piece to forming a cricket team to buying a boat in Italy to the unfriendly locals, you’ll have fun travelling and experiencing island life through the eyes of Anthony.
A few things I learned from reading this book:
- Island life is not all that it’s cracked up to be
- It’s hard to fit in, even if your parents were from there
- Croatian history (both pre and post war)
- Joining the EU is complicated and a necessary evil
- Cricket (and other sports) is what bonds strangers together, especially on a small island.
- Travelling and uprooting your life can have several detractors but at the end of the day, it’s a blessing
Anthony does a brilliant job telling stories and with each story, he made me feel like I was right there. I nodded, smiled, sighed and experienced what he did. If you love to travel and are thinking of moving to an exotic place, you’ll love this book. In the same vein as “A Year in Provence” and “In Tuscany”, you’ll get swept away in the romance, history and allure of Vis.
I loved the stories about Dario. We meet him on page one and he is interspersed throughout the book. He’s a lover of music and becomes the island’s only radio DJ.
“One of life’s greatest delights is showing one’s discoveries to one’s friends and children.”
My Rating: 5 stars
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Anthony Stancomb was educated at Wellington College, St Andrews University and the London School of Film.
He first worked in Feature films and on political documentaries, and this led to arranging a private mercy airlift operation to Biafra. After being shot down, he joined the BBC and later moved to ITV where he produced programmes on social issues and the arts.
In his mid-thirties he left television to set up his own company which promoted and sold British contemporary art to galleries abroad, and over the next twenty years, he created a worldwide network of art distribution that grew to have an annual turnover of £10 million.
Discovered the island of Vis in his fifties and realising that running a commercial global business was not what he wanted to do for the rest of his life, when the war ended, he sold the company and moved to the island with his wife.
His wife, Ivana, is the winner of the Woman of the Year Award for Literature (2000), and granddaughter of the Croatian sculptor Ivan Mestrovic. They have two children who live in London, and they now divide their time in between Vis and Fulham.
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Reviewed by: Mrs. N