Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Book Review: LADY OF THE GLEN



LADY OF THE GLEN, by Jennifer Roberson

I just finished reading Jennifer Roberson's novel LADY OF THE GLEN, a historical novel which takes place in late 17th century Scotland, and tells the story of the events leading up to the infamous Glencoe Massacre of 1692, in which the MacDonalds of Glencoe were slaughtered by government troops led by their longtime enemies, the Campbells.

This is a richly detailed, thoroughly enjoyable book, with lots of period historical detail (including men in kilts!) and characters who are every bit as flawed and complex as those in Diana Gabaldon's books. Although it follows the structure of a romance novel, the relationship between Catriona ("Cat") Campbell and Alasdair Og ("Dair") MacDonald is not always at the forefront of the story. Roberson gives at least as much attention to the complex inter-clan rivalries, the political machinations behind the scenes, and detailed descriptions of what life was like in the Scottish Highlands in the late 17th century.

I liked the character of Cat Campbell a great deal. She's one of those strong female characters of the type that readers of the OUTLANDER books will recognize right away: outspoken and stubborn and unconventional (preferring to dress in men's clothes rather than long skirts, for example), and not willing to be ignored, whether by her father, laird of Glen Lyon, or by her elder brothers. Cat reminds me a great deal of Claire and Brianna, in that she's not willing to be messed with.

Dair is a handsome young Highlander, one of the few truly decent and honorable men to be found in the whole book. I liked his relationship with Robbie Stewart of Appin, and with his father, leader of the MacDonalds of Glencoe, a giant of a man known as MacIain. Dair is gentle and kind to Cat from the moment they first meet, which is such a contrast to the way she's treated by her father and brothers that it's no wonder Cat falls for him right away. But her love for him seems at first to be doomed, in a Romeo-and-Juliet sort of way, because she is a Campbell and he is a MacDonald, and their clans have been enemies for generations.

I thought the descriptions of cattle-raiding in this book were interesting, showing how the practice was so widespread in the Highlands that it was treated almost like a game, but one with potentially deadly consequences, if you were unlucky enough to be caught at it.

The last part of the book, dealing with the massacre at Glencoe and its aftermath, is absolutely riveting. Action-packed, emotionally intense, horrifying, and frightening -- all the more so because it's based on a real historical event. Even by modern standards, the massacre at Glencoe in 1692 was shocking in its brutality, and the author doesn't attempt to sugarcoat any of it. I found myself unable to put the book down for the last 70-80 pages.

I would highly recommend LADY OF THE GLEN to OUTLANDER fans, especially if you're looking for more stories set in the Scottish Highlands. The book is a little hard to find (it was published in 1998) but definitely worth looking for, in my opinion.

If you've read this book, I would be interested to hear what you thought of it.

Finally, on a related note, here's a song about the Glencoe Massacre that you might enjoy. I like the scenery shown in this video.

3 comments:

The Duncan Ingrams said...

Now I REALLY want to read this! I read "Lady of the Forest" years ago, about Maid Marian and Robin Hood, and loved it. This one is on my to read list, perhaps I'll have to move it to the top!

aquagirl said...

So glad to see that you recommend this book! I found it at a used bookstore and it is in my to-be-read-pile. I'm a Campbell lass myself and sure to enjoy it!

sanderson11 said...

This sounds great. I am going to start looking for it. (mymacintyre on outlander purgatory)