REVIEW OF ‘THE HEALING PATHS OF FIFE’
on Amazon on 9th December 2019
Here is the latest review. It is 4 stars but I’m really chuffed that Ragner took the trouble to write it:
“The first thing to note about this book is its subtitle, where Diana Jackson correctly classifies it both as a fantasy and a memoir. To start with the memoir, she describes in considerable detail the several walks in which, sometimes accompanied by her husband, she explores the Fife Coastal Path. These walks are always well observed and occasionally a little scary, for example, when she cuts it fine with the incoming tide and, more so, when she undertakes the Elie Chain Walk. To quote from Fife Council website:
‘This unique scramble will take you across hazardous coastal terrain for 0.5 km.
There are 8 chains, some vertical, with up to 10 metres height gain/loss.’
There is the occasional digression from this walk, for example to Roslyn Chapel and to her previous home in Bedfordshire. But this is to be expected. No one leads life in a totally straight line.
Moving to the fantasy element, the author meets several characters from the past, the most distant being Queen Margaret, the second wife of Malcolm Canmore, who was King of Scots in the early 11th century.
These historical characters fulfill two functions. The first is straightforward, to shed light on the times in which they lived. The second is to offer advice and encouragement to the author, who is has recently been made redundant, is in the process of moving from Bedfordshire to Fife, and who is considering turning to writing full time.
When she is walking alone, it is easy to accomplish this. But when she is travelling with her husband a degree of separation is required or the he might well begin to wonder who she is talking to. The usual solution is that they become separated for a while, one being ahead of the other on their route. The most imaginative solution, is the single occasion when the author is in two places at once.
‘When I straightened I could see my other self laughing too. I walked towards the bench where she and my husband were sitting and we gazed out to sea together, across towards Pettycur Bay on the distant horizon. As we sat, we smiled, and as we smiled we merged back into one.’
This may seem unlikely, but as the author correctly points out, ‘The wonderful thing about fiction is that anything is possible.’
Of the several such meetings in the book, two are unusual for different reasons. When she encounters Robert Louis Stevenson, she gives him more advice than he gives her. At first sight this may seem odd, till we remember that she is meeting him before his writing career gets under way.
She also meets a selkie, an altogether trickier customer than Robert Louis Stevenson.
‘I strolled towards the tower and sat on a large boulder, as close to the seals as I dare, mesmerised by their antics, until suddenly I felt a damp fishy breath, as if someone had dared to creep up on me in my reverie and brush past, his face barely inches from my own. I glanced around to find a ‘man’ settling on a rock nearby, his alluring face and deep brown eyes gazing into my own. I might have been smitten by his sensuous touch or unnerved by his audacity to invade my space, if it hadn’t been for an over-riding fishy scent which made me smile.’
The selkie is a mythical creature, best known to many through that fine song, The Great Selkie o’ Suleskerry. Like any selkie worth his salt he is trying to chat her up. Where does this get him? You’ll have to read the book to find out.”
I laughed when I read about my advice to Robert Louis Stevenson. I had no idea I’d done that!
Well over £500 has been raised for local charities. It is at present for sale in aid of Kirkcaldy Foodbank on
It can be ordered at Waterstones,
but the book is also available at Baker’s Field cafe and The Olympia Arcade in Kirkcaldy.