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By Singing Light

Pretty much everything here originally appeared at my actual blog: By Singing Light. I particularly focus on upper middle-grade and young adult books. I also enjoy adult genre books, especially speculative fiction.

Currently reading

The Lost Tools of Learning and the Mind of the Maker
Dorothy L. Sayers
The Seventh Bride
T. Kingfisher
Hope in the Dark
Rebecca Solnit
Outrun the Moon
Stacey Lee
Midnight Thief
Livia Blackburne
The White Hart
Nancy Springer
The Great Wall Of Lucy Wu
Wendy Wan-Long Shang
Jim C. Hines
Elizabeth & Leicester: Power, Passion, Politics
Sarah Gristwood
Bonnie Dundee (Puffin Books) - Rosemary Sutcliff by Rosemary Sutcliff

Well, Rosemary Sutcliff did it again. In her marvellous way, she spun a beautiful and tragic story out of a fairly obscure historical event. In this case it was the life of John Graham of Claverhouse, also known as Bonnie Dundee. He was Scottish and loyal to James II and VII even after the Glorious Revolution. The story is told from the point of view of Hugh Herriot, his follower and servant. Dundee himself emerges as an extremely likable figure, but Hugh's own story is just as fascinating. Although the period (1670s-80s, roughly) is much later than most of Sutcliff's books, she displays the same grasp of the historical events as well as personalities. I always enjoy her detailed and loving descriptions of the countryside and Dundee certainly delivered on this. In addition, she was able to catch the Scottish voice without resorting to unreadable dialect a la George MacDonald.

As a side note, I looked up John Graham on Wikipedia while reading the book, which was a mistake, so don't do it. Anyway, it turns out that he was descended from Richard III, who happens to be one of my favorite Misunderstood Historical Figures*, which just made me love him even more.

There are some mentions of 'second sight' and that sort of thing in the book, but really it's so small that I don't think you'd be justified in skipping it because of that.

Book source: Inter-library loan

*see The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey


I hadn’t ever read this one before and unfortunately I made the mistake of looking up the title character on Wikipedia. I read the last thirty pages or so with tears streaming down my face. Set in the 1670’s-80’s, it follows the life of John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee, a Scottish general who supported James II/VII after the Glorious Revolution. But Hugh, the narrator, emerges from the background to become just as important as Graham. Beautifully written. (Jan 2010)