Book review: The folk who live in the West

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This is a book on several levels – autobiography, social history, folk tales and myths and legends.

The author originally intended to write only about her native Kintyre, but the work grew to take in the whole west coast and crossed the seas to Ireland and Norway.

There are many things discussed which will be familiar to readers such as the traumas of the qualifying examination or a Gaelic test before competing as a choir member at the Mull Mòd.

As a teacher and later schools adviser and salmon smokehouse owner, the author experienced the vagaries of the west coast weather and travel problems from the 1960s onwards.

These difficulties could be on land and sea, but sound life advice could often emerge as, for example, when a friend confided that ‘if you want to know what a man is really like, take him out sailing in a rough sea and just see how he behaves’.

The west coast has many residents who merit the term ‘character’ and this book is full of them. Many starred in plays as members of the Dunaverty Players, whose first producer was the writer Angus MacVicar.

The author skilfully weaves together contemporary events and the history and legends of an area, as when a west coast man declares ‘my name is Morrison and John Cameron, the fisherman, told me that the Morrisons were originally from Norway – and were probably Vikings’.

This is a vibrant, humorous, poignant and well-written book by New Generation Publishing.

Readers will identify with all of the content and reflect on past times and the eternal vicissitudes of life in that beautiful and mysterious kingdom which is the west coast of Scotland.

Eric Macintyre