Scottish Book Review ~ CORRAG by Susan Fletcher

Although Susan Fletcher is not Scottish, this last review of 2018 is so entwined in the heart of Scottish history and tragedy, that it holds a special place in my admiration. (added to which it is well researched.)

CorragCorrag, called ‘Witch’ by some, fled Hexham in England and headed north, to avoid capture and almost certain death. Following instinct and through many trials along the way she stumbled upon Glencoe, where she made her home. Due to her knowledge of herbs and plants and her power of healing she was adopted by the Mac Donald clan and witnessed the terrible massacre.

Imprisoned and preparing to die she tells her story to an Irish minister. Corrag is her own account of her life.

This tale is gripping, moving to the point of filling your whole spirit and mind as you read. The novel is beautifully written, describing the mountains Corrag so loved in a way to transport you to its peaks and valleys, both emotionally and physically.

I borrowed Corrag from Kinghorn Community Library but will buy it to read it again in the future. Pure magic!

 

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Scottish Author ~ Book Review ~ Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd

Today’s book review takes us back in time to an author who has long left this earth and yet her compelling words live on in the mountains of Scotland which she called home.

41XMWhNm3lL._AC_US218_Scottish Author Review ~

Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd

What magical prose! This little white book caught my eye whilst browsing in Jenner’s in Edinburgh, and I have been enthralled ever since, transported to every nook of The Cairngorms of Scotland through Nan Shepherd’s eyes and pen.

Before the word ‘mindfulness’ was included in the British psyche, and at the end of World War II, Nan Shepherd shared her knowledge, awe and devotion to the mountain range she explored throughout her life. This is certainly a mindful piece of prose, meditating on the mountains, glens, tarns, lochs, waterfalls and streams, but also on the flora, fauna and fundamental effects of the changeable weather elements.

To say this work is beautifully written is understating its appeal. Nan Shepherd’s love, and yet more than that her respect for all that surrounded her,  is compelling. A must read for walkers as well as mountaineers, but also for those who just stand and stare to appreciate this region of Scotland.

No one knows the mountain completely who has not slept on it. These moments of quiescent perceptiveness before sleep are among the most rewarding of the day. …Up on the plateau, light lingers incredibly far into the night … Watching it, the mind grows incandescent and its glow burns down into deep and tranquil sleep.”

What better way to dream our way towards Christmas thinking of snow covered mountains!

 

 

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Scottish Author ~ Book Review ~ The Queen’s Grace by Nigel Tranter

I was introduced to the works of Nigel Tranter when discussing Scottish Literature with Alex at The Wee Shoppe in Kinghorn; if fact I borrowed several of Nigel Tranter’s books from Alex.

41GVH5TMS3L._AC_US218_The Queen’s Grace, is but one of those books, which I have recently reread. Tranter was proficient in the skill of weaving credible and nail biting tales around known facts. His novels were always well researched but also so eloquent that they draw us, the readers, back in time as if we were there. This novel is set at the time of Mary Queen of Scots when she was all but captive by her brother, James who plots for her throne. Clansmen swear their allegiance to their Queen but change sides the moment they feel it is prudent to do so. Men’s heads are cut off for crimes they have not committed and yet their honour is their bond.

Alongside these, sometime gruesome scenes are moments of warmth, tenderness and even humour, especially with those surrounding the queen herself. Her loyal subject Patrick Mac Ruary shines throughout the novel and is the constant to the end; his romance with Mary Mackintosh adding a wonderfully human touch, which I enjoyed greatly.

Not only was this an excellent book but it is a wonderful introduction to the intrigues and intricacies of Scottish history, its battles, victories and failures. What a proud nation, justly so, and it has helped me to understand the fractious, almost love – hate relationship between the Scots and the English at times to this day.

The Queens Grace was originally published in 1953 but this edition was reprinted by B & W Publishing House in 1996. It is the first of Tranter’s novels which I have reread, but I doubt if it will be the last.

I met Nigel Tranter on my walk along the Fife Coastal Path and enjoyed a wonderful conversation with him in The Healing Paths of Fife.

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