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Listen to the voices of ordinary crofters, fishermen, and knitters from the remote Shetland Islands. Hear of their struggles and triumphs against the sea, the weather, and the landlord. This is the true story of the few who stayed in Shetland, the many who emigrated, and the descendants who return home generations later.

A must read for anyone interested in understanding the social history and culture of Scotland's most northerly islands. Voices from the Past has been meticulously researched and written.

Non-fiction, social history, 516 pages, 200+ images

August 1948: "It was with a happy, friendly feeling that I bade good morning to the land of my birth after an absence of forty-nine years."

Peter Inkster emigrated to Western Canada as a young man, returning to his native Shetland Islands just once, in 1948. During that journey, he kept a diary of his post-war observations and childhood memories. Peter's stories offer a poignant, often humorous glimpse into humble village life at the end of the nineteenth century.

Generations later, his great-granddaughter, Karen Inkster Vance, stood at a ship's rail as it sailed into Lerwick, eager to retrace Peter's footsteps. She initially set out to uncover her own family's Shetland past, but in the decades since, her quest has expanded. Weaving extensive historical research – interviews, letters, photos, newspaper articles, and archival documents – with her great-grandfather's narrative, Inkster Vance has painstakingly pieced together the story of an entire community and a way of life gone by.

Both a homecoming memoir and a compelling local history, Voices from the Past tells the true stories of ordinary people from a remote Norse Scottish fishing village. This book will leave you with a deep appreciation for the Shetland crofters, knitters, fishermen, and merchant seamen who struggled – and survived – along the edge of the sea.


"This is not a book just about one man, but about a whole community and a way of life. Karen Inkster has now visited Shetland several times in her quest to delve deeper and deeper into what life was really like for islanders in the times when her great-grandfather was growing up. She has talked to many people and her own descriptions and narrative are interspersed with, not only writings from the diary, but also with wonderful first hand accounts from other Shetlanders with whom she has spoken as well as contemporary photographs and images of records and journals written at the time.

What Karen Inkster has written is a comprehensive social history of one small part of the world which provides a fascinating insight into the everyday lives or ordinary people throughout the seasons as well as illustrating that, however remote, the events of the wider world can never be completely ignored. This is an eminently enjoyable book. Those who think history can make dry reading must think again!" - Scottish Islands Explorer

"Voices from the Past: Stories of North Roe is a magnificent achievement: epic in scale, detailed in focus, written from a deep personal connection with and affection for North Roe and its people. It is also both fascinating and highly readable, encompassing the grimmest of tragedy, most joyful of achievements and humour from the farcical to the surreal. The sourcing of illustrations is impressive and the choice is illuminating; reproduction is careful and clear... This is North Roe's story, written with assurance, respect, verve and love. It also has great acumen and academic weight. I can't see how it could be bettered." - Tom Morton, Scottish broadcaster, journalist and author

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