Disclaimer: I am of Scottish heritage...the Morrisons, Dockery's, and gasp...Montgomeries! But not those Montgomeries. At least I don't think we are, but who knows? Wouldn't be the worse thing in the world, now would it?
Okay, now that I have that off my chest, on to Margaret's book. I read this book for background before reading her new novel A House Divided, which I still have not read, but will.
Based on historical fact and long rivalries, this book demands our full attention or else we will miss something important to the story or to the development of the characters. This is not a quick summer beach read. From the bloody opening massacre through continuing battles to the final scene, this is a book to stew over, to think and rethink about what we have read..
It is 16th Century Scotland. Rivalries abound and none fiercer than the age old one between the Montgomeries and the Cunninghams both real, both deeply involved in their mutual rivalry.
Although the King wants peace, it does not come just because he demands it. The feud has been going on for so long that each side still holds hatred and suspicions of the other side. Finally, though, there is a semblance of accord, not peace necessarily, but accord.
Infused with all of this chaotic action there is, of course, the home front. Wives, children, other family and friends who need to be cared for, taught, appeased, and generally looked after. It is a big undertaking for lairds and lords at war and ladies and lasses at home, but I found the characters believable and some were even likeable! I think most readers will become engrossed in the Kate and Munro story.
Obviously Margaret did her research well. I can just imagine her being immersed in the people, the time period and the battles for a long period of time. The use of names and the dialect seem very authentic, but they do take some getting use to. From her well informed descriptions of everyday life, women, and family I think I gained an insight into my Scottish relatives. From fight scenes to city scenes to the Scottish highlands, Margaret uses figurative language to paint verbal pictures for us, making both the beautifiul and the ugly come alive.
One word of caution for readers: if at first you are confused and find the characters and the story a little hard to understand, don't worry and don't give up. You will soon develop an understanding of the intricacies of the rivalries and of the characters. Then you will enjoy a well-written, well-researched, and well-told tale.
I received an ebook copy of the book as a gift. That did not influence my review. Check it out online and in major outlets.