Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Author: Susan Fletcher
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Fourth Estate, 2010
Rating: 5 Crowns!
The Massacre of Glencoe.............a dark stain of treachery and betrayal of trust on the pages of Scotland's history . On the 13th February. 1692, thirty-eight members of the MacDonald clan of Glencoe were murdered when the soldiers to whom they had given hospitality for ten days , rose up in the early hours of the morning and set about killing their hosts. Many more who fled into the mountains would die of exposure in the winter snow.
Even today the legend persists that it was the Campbells who were to blame but in the years following the massacre the truth was brought to light by an Irish journalist and Jacobite propagandist , Charles Leslie, who. eager to discredit William III , discovered the orders for massacre originated with the king.
This is the background against which Susan Fletcher sets her novel and in her fictional account she takes the real life character of Charles Leslie to the town where a young woman is being held awaiting death by fire for her part in the massacre. He is confronted with an apparition of matted hair and filthy rags from whom he recoils in horror ........Corrag. She agrees to tell him what she knows if he will in turn listen to her life story.
Corrag is an intense narrator and a magical storyteller. " I was always one for places" she says and it is places, the natural world and its wildlife , that come to vivid life in her tale of a solitary girl with a longing to belong who finds beauty in the smallest things around her.
At the end of each day Charles analyses what he has heard in letters to his wife. An unsympathetic character in the beginning he gradually begins to see beyond surface appearance and conventional attitudes and into the heart of both Corrag and himself. Their short time together will change both their lives.
What makes this book special is the writing. At the risk of using words that overuse has made trite - Susan Fletcher's prose is lyrical, poetical and stunningly beautiful, particularly when she is describing the natural world. An absolute joy to read.
Definitely one of this years favourites -I loved it and recommend to all lovers of historical fiction.
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Royal Reviewer Angela Renee at 6:51 AM