'I am simply a 'book drunkard.' Books have the same irresistible temptation for me that liquor has for its devotee. I cannot withstand them.' L.M. Montgomery

'There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed between people who love the same books.' Irving Stone

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sir Compton MacKenzie

I just finished reading 'Hunting the Fairies' by Sir MacKenzie. It is a return to the land and characters first appearing in 'The Monarch of the Glen'. The popular BBC TV series of the same name was based loosely on this book. I read 'Monarch of the Glen' over a year ago, before I started my blog. After I had seen the BBC series.  It got my interest up about the book and I went on a search for it and found it quite different from the series, but none the least enjoyable! It was a great romp around the Scottish Highlands and set me looking for more by this author. I have 'Hunting the Fairies in paperback and quite a few more in digital format that I found for free online. Let's start with...
The Monarch of the Glen Published in 1941
American millionaire Chester Royde is in Scotland with his new bride Carrie and sister Myrtle to research Carrie’s Scottish ancestry. Their new “relatives” turn out to be rather more authentically Scottish than they bargained for. Ben Nevis, Laird of Glenbogle Castle, is cash-strapped and fiercely protective of his lands and the Macdonald clan spirit, but he’s not above attempts to marry heiress Myrtle to one of his brawny sons. When a group of hikers stumble on his moor and spoil a day’s hunting, it sparks an all-out war between gentry and commoners.. (Goodreads description)
Chester buys an old dilapidated house on Hugh Cameron's estate, Kilwhillie, and brings it back to life and names it Knocknacolly. He is determined to fit in and live the life of a Scottish Laird. He and Kilwhillie go to pick out a tartan for himself and much to Kilwhillie's chagrin Chester picks a bright Orange! The Roydes are kind, giving people and a real hit with the people of the village.
Donald MacDonald is Ben Nevis, the Laird of Glenbogle, and Kilwhillie's best friend. Ben Nevis is the name of the highest peak in the British Isles, located in the highlands of Scotland, but in this story it is the Lairds name and the mountain is Ben Quilt. Kilwhillie is quite socially inept and a bachelor. On the other hand Ben Nevis is loud, obnoxious and always leading Kilwhillie into 'situations'. Beatrice, the lady of Glenbogle is always the voice of reason.
When the hikers appear on Ben Nevis land and interrupt a hunt it is all out war. They decide to camp on the property too and Donald is livid! Someone ends up locked in the old dungeon that hasn't been used in decades and who has the key?
'Hunting the Fairies' Published in 1949
The Roydes aren't going to make it to spend the summer at Knocknacolly this year as work is keeping Chester in the States. Everyone is disappointed they won't get to see the baby! Carrie writes to her dear friend Kilwhillie and ask if a friend of hers, Mrs. Urquhart-Unwin and her 19 yr. old daughter Deirdre, could come and stay with him this summer since they aren't opening up Knocknacolly. Mrs. Urquhart-Unwin, Yu Yu to her friends, is the President of the Ossianic Society of Boston. She has Highland blood coursing thru her veins and she is obsessed with Highland folklore and music and especially fairies! Kilwhillie can't say no to Carrie and Yu Yu and Deirdre arrive with their psychic camera, recording machine and Planchette board (think vintage Ouija board). Mrs. Wolfgang, a fellow Ossianic member arrives in Scotland right behind Yu Yu and the race to be the first to see and record fairies, hear the seals sing, and meet Red Alan, the old crofter who can tell them all the old stories, is on! It's cutthroat! And hilarious!
Is Kilwhillie, a tongue tied, 50 yr. old confirmed bachelor, falling in love with 19 yr. old Deirdre?
from the back cover...
Yu Yu's descent on Ben Nevis and Kilwhillie, already famous for their exploits in The Monarch of the Glen, makes a tale as fine and funny as Compton MacKenzie has ever told.

Check out Compton MacKenzie here and to see a bibliography here
Peggy Ann

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