This is an encore review. Enjoy!
Title: The Sea for Breakfast
Author: Lilian Beckwith
Setting: Scottish highlands, about 1950s
Lillian Beckwith goes to live in tiny Bruach, a village in the Scottish highlands. This is her second book about her adventures there, but I hadn’t read the first and figured everything out just fine.
It’s just a string of stories, relating to her life in the village, one day cutting peat, one day taking her cow to the bull, one day trying her hand at lobstering. Underneath all her adventures are a sense that this is the life. It’s hard, it’s dirty, it’s different from everything she expected – but it is real.
Some of the stories are fictionalized a bit. She uses dialect to try to convey the accents of the villagers, which can be a little confusing to read. There is a very brief glossary at the back, but I was still a little stumped as to some of the words. But it made for very relaxing, funny, lighthearted reading. Most of her books are out of print, but if you happen to find one, they really are lovely books.
Standalone Sunday is a feature created by Megan over at BookSlayerReads where each Sunday she features a standalone book (not part of a series)! There’s tons of focus on books that are part of a series… It’s nice to focus on some standalone novels, too!
Title: The Master of Ballantrae
Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
Setting: 1740s Scotland
After a couple of dud books that I had been looking forward to, I was really relieved when I picked this one up and was hooked almost from the first page. Maybe it helped that I skipped the long introduction and got right into the story.
This is a retelling of the Biblical story of Jacob and Esau set during the 1745 Jacobite Revolution. Two Scottish brothers, James and Henry Durie, reprise the roles of those scriptural brothers and the conflict could not be more exciting. After a coin toss, James heads off after Bonnie Prince Charlie while Henry fights for the king. James is presumed dead after the Battle of Culloden and Henry marries the girl intended for James. But James is not as dead as all that, and returns to make trouble for his family.
In some ways, this reads like a soap opera. Just when you think things are settled, up pops something horrible. Pirates, duels, a daring escape, buried treasure — it has it all. The only thing that might discourage a modern reader is occasional use of dialect, but it is rare and there are footnotes in case you are really lost. Totally recommended as a great story sure to keep you turning pages.