FB2 The Lady in the Loch by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough (Goodreads Author) italian kindle online eReader review

FB2 The Lady in the Loch by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough (Goodreads Author) italian kindle online eReader review

FB2 The Lady in the Loch by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough (Goodreads Author) italian kindle online eReader review

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Book description

Book description
Back in 1998, when this book was first published, the reviews of it aimed at the library market immediately put it on my radar. Blending supernatural with historical fiction melds two of my favorite genres; the early 1800s is one of favorite time periods for the latter, and I can get into a Scots setting; Ive enjoyed what Ive read of Scotts writing, and was intrigued by the idea of him as a fictional character; and the description promised a Gothic atmosphere of mystery and suspense that appeals to me. Also, I was curious to sample Scarboroughs work for the first time. Having now finally read the book, it delivered well enough on these factors to earn four stars from me --probably actually three and a half, but I rounded up rather than down, which says something.Our first two chapters here are set in the border country of southern Scotland in the 1790s (Scarborough doesnt give exact dates --more about that below); the rest of the book in and around Edinburgh ten years later. The plot involves murderous skulduggery with its roots in evil sorcery (but a sorcerer may find that his opposition can come from beyond the grave, as well as from the living....). Scarboroughs style doesnt resemble Scotts complex 19th-century prose, but her tale has elements he would have appreciated: ghosts, pretty damsels in distress, danger and intrigue, a lively evocation of Edinburgh itself with its forbidding Tolbooth (which appears in The Heart of Mid-Lothian). Midge Margret is a wonderfully-drawn character, who would have fit quite naturally into a Scott novel; she has the guts and moral fiber of his best heroines. In many respects, the portrait of Scott himself is probably pretty true to life (as is that of his friend, and fellow author and Borderer, James Hogg). I was very intrigued with the Tinklers (called Tinkers in Ireland) and their culture, and would like to study it more. The author makes good use of Scots dialect (though, unlike Stevenson, she doesnt use it so thickly as to be sometimes unintelligible) and fascinating elements of Scottish folklore. Most readers will guess the villains identity early on, but the tale still had, for me, an intense suspense factor.The major weakness of the book is its historical inaccuracies, some of which the author admits in her short note at the end. Scott, she writes, was never one to let chronology or reality stand in the way of a good yarn, so I like to think he wouldnt mind if I am similarly careless with the truth when fictionalizing Sir Walter himself in this book. He might not mind, but I do; when a fictional hero is a real person, I think its important not to contradict the facts, and too many historical inaccuracies take me out of a historical fiction story. To be sure, I didnt know enough about the details of Scotts life to catch most of the liberties the author took (though I did know he was an Anglican, not a Presbyterian), until I consulted Hesketh Pearsons Sir Walter Scott: His Life & Personality. As Scarborough admits, he was never Sheriff of Edinburgh (though he was appointed a deputy sheriff of Selkirk, a sinecure post). The main part of the story is said to take place just after the publication of Vol. 1 of his Minstrelsy of the Scottish Borders; that would put it in January of 1802, by which time hed been married just over four years, not a bachelor as hes depicted here. (And the lady he married was named Charlotte Charpentier, not Williamina Stuart --though he did once court a Williamina Belsches.) Scarborough notes some inaccuracies in her portrait of Edinburgh in the note, but one shes apparently not aware of is that streetlamps in 1802 would not have been lit by gas, but by candles. And a Scots physician in that era would never have considered putting bones on a standing stone to evoke magical revelations about their provenance; their medical science was, by our standards, primitive, but they were by that time passionately rationalist in their attitudes and contemptuous of any form of superstition. (Dr. MacRaes comments in Chapter 3, indeed, seem to presage a scientific examination of the bones, a point Scarborough apparently forgot after she wrote it.) There are also some breaches of etiquette here that would never have been passed over so lightly in Regency society, even in a pub. We also have some clumsy handling of a flintlock pistol (not by the person wielding it, but by the author!), a killing with a motive that doesnt really jibe with the rest of the story, as well as a couple of other actions that dont make sense in terms of motive, and a character whos given two different names at different points in the story. All these factors add up to a novel that could have been more carefully crafted --and would have earned five stars if it had been.This didnt keep me from really liking the book, however. And its whetted my appetite for reading more of Scotts own work --hopefully soon after I hack down some of the piles of unread books I already own!
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