As I begin to tell this, it is the golden month of September in southwestern Ontario. In the splendid autumn sunshine the bounty of the land is almost overwhelming, as if it is the manifestation of a poem by Keats.
MacLeod’s opening lines had me straight away. I trust him. Like his fellow Canadian, Farley Mowat, he tells it simply. This is a deeply felt, passionately imagined and beautifully written novel.
MacLeod's truth isn’t simple; it is complex, nuanced, seasoned over time to a depth and richness that calls to us in our unguarded moments. And his voice is authentic, like the family myths that knit our experience to the lives of our parents, their parents and those who preceeded them.
He continues in a responsive son-sibling-nephew voice that dutifully cares for imperfect elders without judgement. He cares for his family members and his past, yet never drifts into sentimentality. He doesn’t question his role. He accepts his responsibility to his inherited DNA, his red hair and innate talent for epic songs. He embraces his obligation to his living relations. And he contentedly shoulders his obligations to the future of his clan Chalum Ruaidh.
This novel celebrates writing and one of North America’s and Scotland’s hardy family histories. It will endure.