Complicated Simplicity

Complicated Simplicity

Island Life in the Pacific Northwest

By (author): Joy Davis
ISBN 9781772032703
Softcover | Publication Date: April 16, 2019
Book Dimensions: 6 in x 9 in
264 Pages
$22.95 CAD
E-Book Price: $15.99 CAD

About the Book

A frank, practical, and entertaining exploration of the pleasures and complexities of living on small islands.

Many people dream of living simple lives on small islands, but few are aware of some of the unique challenges that accompany this distinctive lifestyle. From negotiating surrounding waters to creating a sustainable home and making a viable life away from urban conveniences, small-island living can be rewarding or difficult (or both), depending on myriad circumstances.

Complicated Simplicity: Island Life in the Pacific Northwest draws on a variety sources to contextualize peoples’ enduring fascination with islands worldwide, including the author’s own experiences growing up on Bath Island (off Gabriola) and her interviews with over twenty intrepid figures who live on the San Juan Islands, the Gulf Islands, the Discovery Islands, and in Clayoquot Sound. Ingenuity, tenacity, and a passion for living in these special places shine through in the personal stories, as does a shared concern for safety, sustainability, and thoughtful stewardship. Engaging, inspiring, and often funny, Complicated Simplicity offers readers honest and useful insights on the joys, perils, and rewards of island life.

About the Author(s)

For nearly three decades, Joy Davis has balanced family, sailing, and coastal cruising with a career in cultural heritage and community engagement. She holds an MA in museum studies and a PhD in educational studies. She directed the University of Victoria’s museum and heritage programs for twenty-five years. Since retiring, she has worked for the journal Museum Management and Curatorship, is a member of the Advisory Group for the Coalition of Museums for Climate Justice, and serves as a Trustee on the Greater Victoria Library Board.


"Davis provides an excellent blueprint of what it takes to live on an island."— British Columbia Magazine
"Davis is a genial guide to the archipelagic Northwest, and to the strenuous pleasures of small, distant lands. Her book is thoroughly attuned to practical details and the texture of coastal experience." —Literary Review of Canada
“Highly recommended for anyone who has ever lived on an island, or dreamt of doing so.” —Grant Lawrence, author of Adventures in Solitude: What Not to Wear to a Nude Potluck and Other Stories from Desolation Sound
Complicated Simplicity is a journalistic inquiry, executed with integrity and sensitivity, that yields insight, wonder, and even joy.” —Tom Groening, editor of Island Journal and The Working Waterfront
“Complicated Simplicity is a thorough exploration of the oft romanticized ideal of being an islander”—Jules Torti, 49th Shelf
"Part memoirist and part guide, Joy Davis takes you along for a roller-coaster west-coast boat ride to all my favourite islands . . . If you lose everything else on the crossing, hang on to the book. You’ll have everything you need to survive!” —Briony Penn, author of A Year on the Wild Side: A West Coast Naturalist’s Almanac
“. . . through her love of island places and her joy in island living, Joy Davis provides glimpses into how traits of islandness—ingenuity, living within limits, resilience—help us survive and thrive together on island Earth.” —Dr. Laurie Brinklow, Island Studies, University of Prince Edward Island
“Part memoir, part manual for slow(er) living, and part anthropological essay . . .Complicated Simplicity is bound to please armchair travellers, west coast historians, island studies scholars, and small islanders alike.” —Phillip Vannini, author of Ferry Tales and Off the Grid
“Joy Davis is an old-growth islander who values practical advice and good stories. She brings both to this funny, smart, poignant guide.” —Donna Livingstone, President and CEO, Glenbow Museum
"If you or anyone you know is contemplating life on an island, this book—both cautionary and inspiring—is essential." Working Waterfront