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More Scots

Last month, I wrote about Robert Burns, one of Scotland’s greatest and best-known writers. Today, because you may not have heard of them, I want to introduce you to two current Scottish writers.

Some time ago, an author I follow on Twitter, Emma Grae, offered one free copy of her debut novel if she got 100 retweets. In fact, 200 people retweeted her message, so she picked two of their names at random and I was lucky enough to be one of them. Be guid tae yer Mammy is set in modern-day Glasgow and tells the stories of three generations of a dysfunctional family. As I no longer hear Scots spoken on a daily basis, I was afraid I might struggle to read it, but in fact there was no problem, despite a few words I didn’t know. (Actually, one of the characters spoke in my head in my Aunt Janet’s voice; although she’s not Glaswegian she speaks very broad Scots.) There are some lovely touches of humour, such as “If the food available tae Jesus wis anywhere near as bad as the shite served in here [the hospital], nae wonder he wis able tae fast fur forty days and forty nights.”

Almost all of the characters are women, and each chapter is narrated by one of them. The actions of a couple of them make them quite unlikeable, but when we see what’s going on in their heads (“When yer young it’s easy tae huv dreams, tae tell yersel yer gaun’ae change the world, then life catches up wi ye and bites ye in the arse.”) at least part of their attitude is explained and, anyway, we all know unpleasant people. Kate, one of the granddaughters, is one of the most sympathetic family members, and her OCD (from which the author also suffers) is extremely well-written. The last page is very touching – I won’t spoil it for you in case you want to read it for yourself.

Ailish Sinclair is another author I follow on Twitter, and also on her blog. She lives in Aberdeenshire and used to be a dancer – what’s not to like?! She has published two books so far, both of which I loved. The Mermaid and the Bear is set in late sixteenth century Scotland, at the height of the witch trials and is a love story as well as a triumph of good over evil. (See my earlier post for more witch-trial fiction.) The eponymous main characters (these are the nicknames they give each other) are lovely and the setting and background are extremely well-researched.

Fireflies and chocolate is set in America in the mid eighteenth century, when some 600 children were kidnapped from Aberdeen and sold into indentured slavery. Some of the characters were real people, and some of the events described during the voyage actually did happen. I had never heard about this, but it is just as well researched as the first book. The main character, a many-times-great-granddaughter of the Mermaid and the Bear, is an extremely feisty Doric-speaking young woman whom I liked very much, and all the people she encounters are well portrayed.

Both these authors are working on their next books, which I look forward to reading.


Published by nellifant

Dancer, booklover, Scot.

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