A Lost Lady of Old Years by John Buchan
|A Lost Lady of Old Years by John Buchan|
|Category: Historical Fiction|
|Reviewer: Robert James|
|Summary: Warning - ye maun ken Scots dialect pure weel if ye hope tae like thes book frae the start. Weel worth reading though, it's sic a guid story.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 224||Date: June 2011|
|Publisher: Polygon An Imprint of Birlinn Limited|
While I normally start with a plot description I'd better justify the summary first. (Translated, it reads - Warning - you must understand Scots dialect really well if you hope to like this book from the start. Well worth reading though, it's such a good story.)
Basically, this is a tale set during the Jacobite Rising of 1745-6 with authentic dialogue of that time; which is to say, rather hard to follow if you're anything like me. Most books, I can read in a couple of days maximum, this took me nearly a month and at some points I was reduced to asking my Scottish colleague to translate it for me.
Of course, you may justifiably ask why on earth I carried on reading something I was struggling with so much - and the answer, naturally, is that pretty much every word I did understand was fantastic. Buchan creates an utterly compelling central character in Francis Birkenshaw, a ne'er do well who is drawn into the Rising as he meets the captivatingly beautiful Margaret Murray, wife to the secretary of Bonnie Prince Charlie, and a rich supporting cast of historical characters such as Murray himself and Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat, who is especially brilliantly portrayed. Scotland itself, with its hostile terrain and feudal loyalty of the clans towards their lords, almost counts as another character it figures so strongly here. There's action, betrayal, intrigue, fantastic character development, and one of the most stunning endings I can recall reading for a long, long, time - which pushed the book firmly into five star territory for me.
That said, it's not going to be for everyone. If, when reading the above summary, you found yourself confused, then you may want to think twice about picking it up. If you're willing to make the effort to understand it - or if you're a native Scot who can't understand why I'm making such a fuss about a puir wee thing - then I can definitely recommend this as absolutely fantastic.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
For more John Buchan we can recommend Greenmantle.
You can read more book reviews or buy A Lost Lady of Old Years by John Buchan at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy A Lost Lady of Old Years by John Buchan at Amazon.com.
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