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  • Location: Oban, Scottish Highlands, "Kerista Island" ,Edinburgh,Singapore

Greyfriars House

Greyfriars House

Why a Booktrail?

1939 – 1984: A gothic Scottish house holds secrets from far and wide

  • ISBN: 978-0751566130
  • Genre: Gothic, Historical

What you need to know before your trail

1939 – Nine-year-old Olivia Friel is delighted to be spending the summer at Greyfriars House, a place where her parents, their family and friends are always happy. But this year there’s an underlying tension that Olivia doesn’t understand. Then one night she sees something she’s not meant to, and accidentally lets slip a devastating betrayal.

1984 – Charlotte Friel gets a call from her ailing mother, asking something she’s never asked before: for Charlotte to come home. There are things Olivia needs to tell her daughter before it’s too late, secrets to be shared about forgotten relatives and a mysterious house.

Left reeling by recent events, Charlotte is unsure what path to follow. But eventually her curiosity, and a desire to escape her own life, lead her to Greyfriars House.

Travel Guide

Travel to Scotland to Greyfriars House via Oban


Oban is a lovely port city in the highlands of Scotland and is carefully crafted into this story as the nearest place on the mainland to Kerista Island. Kerista Island is fictional but this is where Greyfriars House is located.

Oban is the setting for the arrival and visits to and from the island. Boats come from here with (unwelcome)visitors as the sisters who live in Greyfriars do not like newcomers. Even their own niece has problems at first. But this remote house which has largely remained untouched for years, seems to like it this way itself. For it has secrets of its own. And a gothic ghost story which Olivia hears and then many years later Charlotte hears and is convinced there might be more to this story than anyone realises.

Kerista Island

“Kerista Island is over a hundred hectares. Far too much land for two elderly ladies to manage.”

They get their food delivered from Lovatt’s the store in Balcreen (also fictional) and even they are instructed to leave the shopping at the harbour and then the sisters will collect it later.


The house gets its name we are told from the famous statue of the dog who sat by his master’s grave when he died…and wouldn’t leave. This is in Edinburgh where Olivia actually studies in earlier chapters.

“Greyfriars House had undoutedly been grand in its day., but any evidence of that had long gone.

“The house itself was almost taken over by ivy which clambered up the walls, almost obscuring the windows on the first two floors, the rose bushes climbing up the front wall, running wild.

“On the right as I stood facing Greyfriars was the crenelated tower in which Mum had slept in as a child….”


Travel to Singapore during the WW2 years

These sections of the story are very hard given the subject matter of women in war. Two characters live and work here and we see if through the eyes of people there when war breaks out and Japanese soldiers invade. The war is raging just off the page, Singapore is not expected to fall. Pearl Harbour brings more  fear to the characters in the book. The war atmosphere and the changing city of Singapore are well evoked. AT first, it’s the city of opportunity, China town and Beach road are just two places the characters go.

There are also scenes in the jungle and the remote land around the city. The realistic scenes here are raw and chilling yet they paint a picture of war that will have repercussions for years after. Ripples which will be felt all the way across the waters to Kerista Island.

BookTrail Boarding Pass: Greyfriars House

Destination: Oban, “Kerista Island” Scottish Highlands, Singapore  Author/guide: Emma Fraser Departure Time: 1929 – 1984

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