The Daft Days by Neil Munro

I was raking around in the attic the other day looking for a particular book which I didn’t find, but I did come across The Daft Days which I vaguely remember buying from a second-hand bookshop a while ago. It’s a favourite pastime of mine – haunting old bookshops but sadly there aren’t so many of them around nowadays.

Anyway, I hadn’t got around to reading it and decided to rectify the matter. In fact I had never read anything by Neil Munro before and I didn’t really know what to expect. I was very pleasantly surprised by the book.

It was written in 1907 and is the story of Lennox Dyce from Chicago who travels to Scotland to live with her aunts and an uncle after the death of her parents. The first surprise for the adults is the fact that Lennox is a girl as they had been expecting the arrival of a boy. Mind you I used to know a girl called Lennox, so it isn’t unknown. The girl goes by the name of Bud and turns out to be such an open, friendly and charming wee soul that she takes the small town by storm and is soon a great favourite with the townsfolk.

She goes on to change the lives of the inhabitants in various ways and also to broaden their outlook on life. Bud grows up to become an actress in London and is the pride of her Scottish home town. Quite a feat when you consider the narrow Presbyterianism which pervades the place.

It’s a long time since I read Anne of Green Gables but if I am remembering correctly, The Daft Days is a similar kind of story, only set in Scotland. It ‘s an enjoyable homely sort of a read, I suppose you could say that it is couthie.

I know that at one point there was a vogue for books set in Scotland and there was a group of authors known as ‘Kailyard’ writers and I think that this might come under that category. It must have been written around the time that J.M. Barrie was writing his Tommy and Grizel and The Little Minister sorts of books. It’s a pity that people only remember him for Peter Pan now as his other books are well worth reading.

So I’ll have to find some more Neil Munro books to try out. If you want to know more about him you should visit the Neil Munro Society.

I would really like to know why the cover of Gilian, the Dreamer is a self-portrait by Archibald Skirving, which I recognised immediately. In what way, if any, are the two connected?

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