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As the Women Lay Dreaming


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A novel of the Iolaire disaster

In the small hours of January 1st, 1919, the cruellest twist of fate changed at a stroke the lives of an entire community.

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. 

REVIEWS OF As the Women Lay Dreaming

“A powerful book…which reveals new layers with every reading. It is history brought to life through fiction, and when it is done in a manner as moving and beautiful as this it is invaluable.” Alistair Braidwood, Scots Whay Hae.

Trade information

  • Rights: World
  • BIC code(s): FV, FA
  • BISAC code(s): FIC014040

As the Women Lay Dreaming

About the author

Donald S Murray

A son of the Hebrides, Donald S. Murray is a writer and poet whose work has been shortlisted for both the Saltire Literary Awards and the Callum Macdonald Memorial Award. His critically acclaimed books bring to life the culture and nature of the Scottish islands, and he appears regularly on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio Scotland. 

Praise for Donald S Murray:

“Deeply moving.” Will Self, Telegraph

“He writes with an inherent understanding of Highland culture, language and way of life.” Herald

“The story is told with great charm, and tinged with a spirit of loss and yearning.” Philip Marsden, Spectator

“Mr Murray is a gregarious and engaging raconteur.” The Economist

“Donald S. Murray is one of the most accomplished and original writers to have emerged from Lewis in modern times, and there is stiff competition.” Roger Hutchinson, West Highland Free Press

“Outstanding.” Highland News