In 1803, during a hike through the island of Rügen in northern Germany, Johann Jacob Grümbke wrote a series of letters to his sweetheart. A noted naturalist, Grümbke paints a colorful picture of the island as it was in the 19th century, describing it in both scientific and scenic terms. Arthur Strohmeier, fascinated by this contemporary account of his family's ancestral home, translates it from German to English so that those who might otherwise not know of the island's existence can experience it for themselves.
Grümbke's tour begins in the coastal town of Stralsund, where he studies the characteristics of a typical islander, the history, and the circumstances under a life of serfdom. As he traverses the area, he reveals to the reader both the natural, water-borne beauty of the coastline, the daily lives of the members of the religious Mönchguter community, and the peculiarities of the fisher-folk of the island of Hiddensee.
Exploring both Grümbke's original text and the updates made to it by Albert Burkhardt, including the addition of Grümbke's artwork, Strohmeier's skillful translation of the text reveals not only an interest in the factual existence of Rügen, but a deep emotional and spiritual connection to a community and a homeland from which he was borne.