Reminiscent of the best of Matthiessen, Dillard, and Erlich, Leslie Leyland Fields's Alaskan memoir is an inspiring narrative of life in the wild. Surviving the Island of Grace is a beautiful and haunting memoir of a woman who left the East Coast and moved to Alaska looking for a new life. In brilliant prose, Leslie Fields tells her story of adapting to life on a wilderness island without running water, telephones, or other 20th century conveniences. Here, as a 20-year-old newlywed, she is immersed into the world of commercial salmon fishing. With an unflinching gaze, she explores the extremes that define her new life: the beauty and brutality of commercial fishing, the startling land and seascape around her, the isolation, the physical labor, the intensity of communal island life. Among these extremes, she must find her way from a young woman to wife, commercial fisherwoman, and mother. She explores as well, perhaps most eloquently of all, her unique New Hampshire childhood and its role in preparing her for her life in the bush. With its dramatic Alaskan setting and moving narrative, Surviving the Island of Grace is a poetic and powerful book.
Since 1978, Leslie Leyland Fields has followed the schools of ready-to-spawn fish out to a remote island where she and her husband fish commercially for salmon. With five children, ranging in ages from thirteen to six months, the island now has a population of seven.
Her essays have appeared in The Atlantic, Orion, The Christian Science Monitor, Experiencing Nature: A Creative Nonfiction Reader, The Best of Oregon Quarterly, and others. She is the recent winner of the Virginia Faulkner award for excellence in writing. She is the author of Out on the Deep Blue.