Category Archives: Book reading

Celebrating two Authors Born in Kirkcaldy ~ Val Mc Dermid and Andrew Fyall

TWO AUTHORS FROM KIRKCALDY

Val Mc Dermid

Val Mc Dermid is a well known author worldwide, Scottish but also celebrated in her home town of Kirkcaldy in fact she is seen regularly  at Stack’s Park watching her home side Raith Rovers.

Val McDemid is also a prolific tweeter engaging with her readers and twitter friends in a humorous and light hearted fashion @valmcdermid

Here ‘s my latest book review of one of her books, chosen because one of the main locations is in Fife:

A Darker Domain by Val Mc Dermid

This is a multi layered crime / mystery, with flashbacks to the time of the tumultuous miners’ strike in Fife, as DI Karen Pirie works to solve two seemingly very different cold cases.

Meanwhile Bel Richmond, a freelance journalist, finds a sinister poster and some blood stains in an abandoned villa near where she is staying in Tuscany. This thrusts the lies and deception of the past right into the present as the Italian police begin to investigate. Unraveling the truth has unforeseen and tragic outcomes leaving the reader reeling.

To say that I was gripped by this novel was an understatement, not surprising baring in mind the calibre of the author.

‘A Darker Domain’ was all the more meaningful for me since the Fife coastal locations were now so familiar. Not only that but the social historical aspect of the miners’ dispute added a realistic dimension to the events. Tension was literally in the air – provocation to carry out a kidnapping which led to dire consequences.

I would never have guessed the end of the novel ~ a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions.

I’ve recommended it to a couple of friends already and will read the first in the series. ‘The Distant Echo’ is now on my list of ‘to read’ books.

Andrew Fyall

Andrew Fyall was also born in Kirkcaldy, was a reporter for the Daily Express and a Foreign Correspondent during the 1960’s and 1970’s. He now lives in Edinburgh.

I’ve recently been recommended to read his memoir. Here’s my review:

First in, Last Out: Memoirs by Andrew Fyall

51wWgHgKjYL._SY346_I was gripped from beginning to end of Andrew Fyall’s book through political upheaval, potential and real wars, terrorism and the world of entertainment. Reading ‘First in, Last Out’ was all the more poignant since I was reading first hand accounts of events I’ve been moved by throughout my life including The Cuban Missile Crisis, Martin Luther King and The terrorist attach at the Munich Olympics. The events Andrew Fyall covered were wide ranging but also pivotal in the state of our world.

The life of a Foreign Correspondent was described in stark honesty, his successes, his reliant on instinct, ingenuity and sheer guile. Incredible but hidden behind his words, I felt, was another life of the long suffering wife and family as Andrew Fyall was sent off to far flung places at a moment’s notice, often giving hours between one assignment and the next.

Last in, First Out also gave a frank account of the ruthlessness of working for The Daily Express, one of the top newspapers in its heyday.

Excellent book.

It is fitting that I should review Andrew Fyall’s memoirs at a time when I am focussing on Kirkcaldy, specifically Kirkcaldy Foodbank. (All profits of my own fantasy/memoir ‘The Healing Paths if Fife’ are going to support the Kirkcaldy Foodbank during November and December 2019.) See a previous blog post

viewbook.at/TheHealingPathsofFife

Do you know any other authors who were born in Kirkcaldy? Please let me know if you do.

 

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Book Review ~ The Chessmen by Peter May

I bought the paperback of The Chessmen by Peter May at the Kildonan Museum in South Uist, a perfect place to pick up a novel set in the bleak but stunningly beautiful landscapes of The Outer Hebrides.

Fin and his mates grew up together in the close knit communities of the island of Lewis, the place where the famous Chessmen were discovered; an island where each group of peoples have their unique identity. In their late teenage years before uni the friends were completely absorbed with music, forming a band which went on to success. 

Fin arrives back on the island of his birth from a broken marriage and personal tragedies, leaving behind him his career in the police, only to find himself in the centre of mysteries, even murder. His new job to catch poachers on the estate brings him in direct conflict with his oldest and dearest friend. 

This novel is full of flashbacks to the past, which help the reader to understand the complex issues of the present. Fin’s detective mind makes it impossible for him to leave alone the attempt to unravel each mystery, putting his and other lives in grave danger. 

A brilliant book! The evocative surroundings wrap around Peter May’s colourful character, whose nicknames describe each perfectly ~ from boy to adulthood.  I couldn’t put The Chessmen down and must now go back to read the first in this series.

 

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I’m excited to share with you a Scottish Poet ~ Pauline Prior – Pitt

Having just returned from a memorable trip to the Outer Hebrides ~ the island of Barra via Oban, then on to South Uist and back from Lochboisdale to Mallaig ~ I am excited to share with you Pauline Prior – Pitt.

South Uist

I bought ‘be an angel’ in the new Kildonan Centre. This is an interesting and thoughtfully displayed museum, where you could while away a morning reading the detailed boards alongside displays of artifacts and memorabilia. There’s a coffee shop for fresh lunches, soup, cakes, scones or just tea or coffee and also a local arts and crafts shop, where I bought ‘be an angel’.

I leafed through a couple of poems in the shop and was struck immediately by the notions ‘Pauline knows me personally! How did she know that? She has an amazing ability to describe, word for word, what goes on in my home, my relationships and in the depths of my mind in such a succinct but powerful way. There are some surprises however and twists at the end. Pauline seems to grip the heart of every conceivable human emotion ~ especially women’s.

I cannot quote a poem in case of infringing copyright but some of the titles may give you a taste of Pauline Prior-Pitt’s humour, as well as her understanding of humanity:

Leaving South Uist

be an angel, amnesia, sisterhood, together, crumbs, company of women, just, and when, a woman’s prayer …

‘be an angel’ is a collection of Pauline Prior Pitt’s poems inspired by the lives of women. Click on the link to go through to the publishers, Longstone Books. It does not appear to be available on Amazon.

If you love poetry, but also wish to have a flavour of life in the Outer Hebrides, (Pauline was born in North Uist) then I highly recommend this book.

Maureen Lipman says:

‘Everyone needs a Pauline Prior-Pitt in their lives and on their bookshelves.’

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Filed under Book reading, Book reviews, Scotland, Scottish authors