Bleaker House
written and narrated by Nell Stevens
Random House Audio

Like many travelogues, Bleaker House is contrived: its British author, Nell Stevens, places herself outside her comfort zone so she will have something to write about. She knows what works. This wonderful book is the result of a fellowship she was awarded after completing her MFA at Boston University. Of anywhere in the world she could go to write, Stevens chooses the Falkland Islands. “I do not want to have a nice time,” she writes, and that much characterises her time on Bleaker Island, where she sees “only mono­syllables: cliffs, birds, waves, sand, sheep …” This may not be the book Stevens had planned, but she did leave the island with something precious. And despite what Ted Hughes had led her to believe, she writes: “There is no such thing as effortless concentration.”