The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle by Kirsty Wark

The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle by Kirsty Wark was published in 2014. Obviously Kirsty Wark is better known for being a television journalist and presenter, and like many well known people she has tried her hand at writing. I was really looking forward to reading this one but it didn’t come up to my expectations.

The setting is Arran, a large island in the Firth of Clyde. I’ve never visited Arran but I really would like to see Arran now, so if nothing else this book might be good for the local tourist industry.

The chapters switch between Elizabeth and Martha. Elizabeth is a woman who has lived her whole life on Arran. She was born before the First World War which her father didn’t come back from and it’s her life story, involving loss of various sorts. When Elizabeth dies Martha discovers that she has left a house in Arran to her mother. But Martha’s mother is suffering from dementia and as Martha has Power of Attorney it falls to her to deal with the house.

Martha has problems of her own, apart from having to cope with her mother by herself, as her older sister is too busy with an exciting career to bother about their mother. But Martha is intrigued as to why Elizabeth would leave a house to her mother, as she has no knowledge of Elizabeth at all. Unsurprisingly she wants to get to the bottom of it.

This book begins with a sort of wish fulfillment. I mean – who wouldn’t want to inherit a lovely old house in a part of the world that they’ve enjoyed their childhood holidays in. But surprisingly there is some really quite bad writing in it. Did an editor think that they couldn’t tell Wark to do some rewriting? It’s a shame because the ideas in the book are interesting enough, but the clunky writing in parts spoiled it for me. Maybe it’s because I usually stick to well tried and tested authors and classics that mean I expect too much.

The blurb on the back says:
Elizabeth Pringle lived all her long life of the Scottish island of Arran. But did anyone really know her? In her will she leaves her beloved house Holmlea, to a stranger – a young mother she’d seen pushing a pram down the road over thirty years ago.

It now falls to Martha, once the baby in that pram, to answer the question, why?

A captivating story of the richness behind so-called ordinary lives and the secrets and threads that hold the women together.

It just wasn’t my cup of tea though.

6 thoughts on “The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle by Kirsty Wark

  1. This novel does sound very interesting, but poor writing in a novel tends to “drive me up the wall.” Yes, we all know it’s a shame that publishing houses nowadays do not supposedly have the resources to properly edit and guide all their published writers, BUT, I must say, I can’t abide sloppy writing. I don’t know if this is true in the UK, but in the US, literary agents and publishing houses “force” their writers to hire editors to polish their own work. The writer must pay, and very big bucks too, for a good freelance editor to do what the publishing houses used to do for their writers. The world askew, once again. I would say, though, that this island does sound like a place you and Jack might like to explore. But an island in the North Sea? I get seasick very easily, do you?

    • Judith,
      No I never get sea sick, in fact if I go on a boat trip which is really smooth, I feel hard done by!
      I had no idea about the writers in the US having to hire editors. Nobody seems to do it here, but I also think that there are some well known media types who are ‘too big’ to be told they need to improve things. Most authors here are paid so little, even when they’re quite well known – that they would never be able to afford to pay an editor anyway.

  2. Oh that’s such a shame! I bought the book last year – I liked the blurb and I like Kirsty Wark. But when I began reading it I couldn’t get into it very far – all those adjectives! I thought maybe it wasn’t the right time and I wasn’t in the right mood for it so I put it back on the shelf for the time being. I see it’s got mixed reviews on Goodreads though.

    • Margaret,
      I saw that you had it on ‘want to read’ on Goodreads. The writing is really surprisingly amateurish/schoolgirlish in parts. I really like Kirsty Wark too and I was all set to enjoy this one so it was a big disappointment.

  3. This is on my wishlist, but I think from reading your review and comments it might stay there longer. I abhor poor writing especially when it can really take over the plot.

    • Jo,
      I’m sure you have plenty of other books to read which you would enjoy more. It wasn’t all bad though, which makes it all the more annoying as it’s just laziness. A teacher would have said – could do better.

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