Saturday, 26 October 2013

My Friend Flora by Jane Duncan

Published 1962  Part 4







So in 1935, Alasdair was a Scottish Nationalist and wore the kilt all the time – the kilt that torture would not have made him wear the year before – and had a tendency not to shave if his father had not forced him to do it… Alasdair suddenly saw [the local gentry] through Scottish Nationalistic eyes as an oppressor of the people and treated me to long diatribes about how the noble sons of the soil had had their crofts burned about their ears in order to make deer forests…

This struck me as a lotta hooey, but it was fine summer weather and I wanted to wear my new tweed suit to the Highland Games at Inverness, and Alasdair, even with the beard, was as fine-looking an escort in a rugged sort of way as a well-dressed girl could wish for, so I sort of went along with this Scottish Nationalism for a bit, although pointing out gently that the Daviots of Poyntdale had not been such grinders of the faces of the poor as many families had been.



observations: I am working my way through the My Friend series (those I can find – some of the books are quite rare) and this is not one of Duncan’s finest moments. For a start, all this pretending to views she doesn’t hold is seen as light-hearted and youthful and charming, where other characters would, for much less, be condemned as hypocrites and for not living up to the stern standards of Reachfar (the childhood home, a croft). Narrator Janet is terribly interested in herself, but she is also very easy on herself, while being hard on everyone else except her family.

There is a rather horrible storyline about a very damaged child – not much sympathy coming from our lovely heroine – and the story darts about all over the place. It certainly isn’t a good introduction to the series. On to the next one.

A previous entry, the Miss Boyds, has Janet’s grandmother ‘giving her feather boa a shake’ – in this book the boa is given away to the sad child. For (a lot) more Jane Duncan click on the label below.

Josephine Tey is another one with strong views on Scottish Nationalism, (though as we regularly point out, she has strong views on everything), and Pat here sounds like a younger version of Alasdair.




The top picture, from the Library of Congress, is a completely unfair cheat: it shows music hall entertainer Harry Lauder (‘Scotland’s greatest ever ambassador’ according to Winston Churchill) and his wife, who must have been twice the age of Janet and Alasdair.

9 comments:

  1. Very interesting post, even if the book itself doesn't sound very good. The photos are great. I like kilts and the lady has some very interesting clothes on.

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    1. Tweed and kilt - it's a great combination isn't it? I am quite rude about these books, but I do keep reading them, and no-one is making me, so they do have something. I think I enjoy the picture of a bygone age.

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    2. I was thinking the same thing... that it is the picture of the time that would be most interesting.

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  2. Moira - She doesn't sound a very sympathetic character does she? Interesting how a story that's supposed to come off one way comes off..differently. I do like the description of the kilt's sociopolitical status though - interesting.

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    1. Kilts are a great opportunity for men to dress up in fancy clothes without seeming too outlandish, it seems to me.... that's why they survive and are still so popular.

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  3. Time to get my eyes checked again - I would have sworn that one was Sid James. Another pass on the book this time.

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    1. Now you did make me giggle. I can see the resemblance. Sid James and Nicole Kidman in a film together would have been a great pairing... too bad they weren't contemporary.

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  4. Oh my. The furs go from bad to worse. It looks like the poor woman is about to have her throat ripped out by a leaping herd of vicious... whatever they are. I think perhaps my reactions are coloured by being unexpectedly confronted with glassy-eyed weasels while still in my mother's arms.

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    1. Indeed, it is quite a scary look: no wonder people don't wear animal heads any more. I enjoyed the glimpse of your childhood memories....

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