26 Sep 2012

MIDWINTER.

MIDWINTER by JOHN BUCHAN

The Jacobite army marches on into England and Alastair Maclean, close confident of Charles Edward Stewart, embarks on a secret mission to raise support for the cause in the west. 

He soon begins to suspect someone close to the Prince is passing information to the government, but just as he closes in on the traitor his own life is put in danger. Who is the turncoat and can Maclean save his own life and his Prince?

..... outer back cover.

FIRST SENTENCE (Chapter 1): The road which had begun as a rutted cart-track sank presently to a grassy footpath among scrub oaks, and as the boughs whipped his face the young man cried out impatiently and pulled up his horse to consider.

MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 155): Once he seemed to hear the sound of breathing close at hand, and after some search traced it to the deep bed of leaves under which a hedgehog was snoring in its winter sleep.

MY THOUGHTS: Not as you might expect a story of the season (though this is in fact quite beautifully described), Midwinter is the name of one of the main characters - a gentleman outlaw, the leader of a rather secretive band of men, a dweller in Old England.

Originally published in the early 1920's and classed by some as a classic of Scottish literature and by others as one of the best historical novels ever written I feel a bit of an intellectual inferior in admitting that I didn't enjoy Midwinter, finding it, as someone brought up on a diet of Philippa Gregory, old-fashioned and, dare I say it, rather staid.

Minus the introduction by Stuart Kelly and the preface by the editor, at less than 250 pages long, on the face of it this is a fairly short novel and yet given the minuscule size of the typeface used in this 2008 Polygon edition and the somewhat meandering plot it seemed so, so much longer.

By no means a book for me, a knowledge of the Scottish history of the time would certainly be a bonus AND I suspect that given the secret society nature of much of the novel this may well be a book better appreciated by male readers.

KEEP IT OR NOT?: A reading group read I have no desire to obtain a copy of this.

12 comments:

Mary (Bookfan) said...

I thought the same as I read your review - probably a book my husband would enjoy more than I would. Thanks for your thoughts!

GMR said...

Not my cup of tea but how curious that the title is actually a character's name! Never would have guessed. Thanks for sharing!

chitra said...

I am slowly settling in new place and scheduling my work so that I can devote some time for blogging and keeping in touch with my friends. Shall post soon. see you..:))

Kelly said...

The miniscule typeset would certainly be off-putting for me. I guess I'm getting old.

Trac~ said...

Thanks so much my friend! I get a lot of my book choices from you so I will not be adding this to the list! :)

Betty Manousos said...

i've always been fascinated with anything Scottish.
but this one sounds somewhat boring..not my cup of tea either.

xx

Sanand said...

As I read your review, I made up my mind that this isn't the kind of book that I'd want to read. I am not into historical fiction.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Well, if nothing else you have pushed me to read Philippa Gregory! :)

Suko said...

Thanks for your honest review, Petty.

Natasha said...

I've not read Midwinter and it doesn't seem like I'd enjoy it too much after your review. I'll have to pick it up and have a go at some point. And I'm doing well thank you :) xxx

DMS said...

As I was reading the description I was thinking that this is a book that might be over my head (I had to read the description twice). I can understand why you felt the way you did. :)
~Jess

naida said...

I've never heard of this one. That small type would give me a headache. Thanks for the honest review.