The story reflects the destruction of war on a more emotional level and is told through the eyes of 15 year old farm girl, Agnes. Betrothed to a much older man who lives miles away from the farm she holds dear, her move to the city brings with it the noise, glamour and snobbery you expect from a close-knit part of a bustling city. Her life will never be the same, can she survive living with a man who prefers to spend time with the up and coming SNP and their patriotic ways, or will she return to her life in the fields?
Agnes’ character was so resolute in what her life had become since she married the pathetic excuse for a husband, Jeff, that it took me a long time to warm to her. She was so young to have been married, but back then I suppose it was the norm. I so wanted her to be free and I was glad that she found some comfort in roaming the landscape around her. I willed her to leave him but I knew that wouldn’t happen. I loved the book because it explored Edinburgh during the war, a rare glimpse into what actually happened here rather than the other big cities in the UK. The historical element of the SNP was fantastic to read about, there aren’t many writers would take on such a momentous task. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and found the story intriguing and yet bewildering at the same time. 4/5
When I started the book, I thought I wasn’t going to like it at all as I’m not a great fan of stories written in the subjective. I also have to admit that I read this book when I first came out in the middle of January and, with all the trauma of my sister utmost in my mind, I couldn’t remember a thing about it when I received your email the other day. So, having just finished another book, I began it all over again and really did enjoy the tale of an innocent young country girl plucked from her family by “Professor Higgins” in the guise of Jeff, her new husband and transported to Edinburgh. Not such a happy ending for the pair as in Pygmalion/My Fair Lady though!
I thought some of the prose was really descriptive, particularly:
“Stuck in his teeth, summer fruit picked without thought”. Sums up the relationship completely.
My favourite phrase was one I would like Alex Salmond, Nicola Sturgeon, etc to read – “. Nationalism isn’t glorious. It is a club that pens its members and leaves others to the wolves”.
I really hated the self centred and destructive nature of Jeff, who didn’t even see Agnes as a person in her own right but just fell under her spell because of her ability to further his study of Scottish dialect. He even insisted she dress in his dead mother’s clothes and I have to say I would have been there right beside her stoking the bonfire and cheering with every to addition to the pyre!
Agnes was extremely naive and I did want to kick her into reality quite a lot but I think that portrayal of her was quite clever as, after all, she was such a young girl who was excited by this suave and learned person who could take her places she had only dreamt about. She was infatuated, loved the attention of the learned Professor and thought the grass would be greener if she went along with him to the Big City. She had never before left the family home let alone marry and move away from all she knew and loved. She didn’t seem to know much about men and lacking the love and attention from Jeff she thought that Douglas’ kindness and flirting was a show of love for her. Dear me!
She was left a poor second to Jeff’s political ambition and dogged determination. In fact, I think he just saw her as a replacement for his mother – aedipus! This rendered her homesick with a yearning for love and attention. She was widowed and pregnant at 18 and only then did she show her natural spirit in rescuing Hannes, joining the Land Army and becoming her own person, accepting all the responsibility that entailed. 3.5/5
TOTAL SCORE: 30.5/40