WINNER OF THE 2020 PAUL TORDAY MEMORIAL PRIZE.
A powerful, poignant and award-winning novel, set across two decades, of the UK’s worst peacetime maritime disaster since the Titanic: the 1919 Iolaire tragedy off the coast of Isle of Lewis.
'A powerful novel... A poignant exploration of love, loss and survivor's guilt.' Nick Rennison, Sunday Times
Tormod Morrison was there that terrible night. He was on board HMY Iolaire when it smashed into rocks and sank, killing some 200 servicemen on the very last leg of their long journey home from war. For Tormod – a man unlike others, with artistry in his fingertips – the disaster would mark him indelibly.
Two decades later, Alasdair and Rachel are sent to the windswept Isle of Lewis to live with Tormod in his traditional blackhouse home, a world away from the Glasgow of their earliest years. Their grandfather is kind, compassionate, but still deeply affected by the remarkable true story of the Iolaire shipwreck – by the selfless heroism and desperate tragedy he witnessed. A deeply moving novel about passion constrained, coping with loss and a changing world, As the Women Lay Dreaming explores how a single event can so dramatically impact communities, individuals and, indeed, our very souls.
"A searing poetic meditation on stoicism and loss." Mariella Frostrup, BBC Radio 4 Open Book
"A powerful novel... A poignant exploration of love, loss and survivor's guilt." Sunday Times
"Murray is an evocative painter of landscapes and a deeply sympathetic writer... This diligently researched book exists principally as a space for forgotten voices to sound, bearing witness not just to this tragedy, but to the terrible cost of World War I itself." Daily Mail
"I loved this book." Douglas Stuart, Booker Prize–winning novelist