My Friend Flora by Jane Duncan – 20 Books of Summer

My Friend Flora cover

My Friend Flora by Jane Duncan was published in 1962, it’s part of a long series of ‘My Friend’ books. These are generally a light-hearted keek into another way of life, the setting is the Highlands of Scotland, a remote crofting community where all families have a nickname. Often it’s just the name of the farm where they live. Janet Sandison’s family are all named Reachfar as a surname. Reachfar being the name of where they live.

It begins in 1915 when Janet goes to the small local primary school and meets Flora Smith for the first time. Flora is a few years older than Janet and her bye-name as they call it is Bedamned because her father is always using that word, but it seems that the bye-name is more like a curse on the family as disaster after disaster befalls them. For that reason this book is different from the others in the series that I’ve read, admittedly I haven’t got my hands on many of them yet.

Janet is sorry for Flora, it seems like a life of selfless drudgery with no thanks from anyone, particularly her harsh and morose father, but Flora is happy with her lot and her situation shows that what seems appalling to one person is a source of love and even pride to another.

Towards the end of the book the action moves to the USA briefly, via a trip on a ship and aeroplane, something that would have seemed very exotic to most readers of the book.

This was an enjoyable read despite Flora being the sort of character that you wanted to give a good shake and also some uncomfortable scenes involving a dog being tormented. There is comeuppance which is always a good thing.

20 books of summer

6 thoughts on “My Friend Flora by Jane Duncan – 20 Books of Summer

  1. This books sounds very good and I like the cover. I did purchase a copy of My Friend Muriel after I read your review last month… it took a long time to come, but I hope to read it in a month or so.

  2. I read many of the “My Friend” books as a child probably between the ages of 11- 13 in the late 1960s/ early 1970s. I borrowed them from the public library in a small town in Aberdeenshire. Like Jane Duncan I was marked out as the clever, voracious reader so no one seemed bothered about my borrowing books from the adult section. Also the “My Friend” books look quite cosy.

    I still remember to this day the horror of reading the scene where Georgie is torturing the dog in this book. Once read you can’t unread it.

    I’ve been re-reading, and enjoying, the series but wanted to avoid this one. I couldn’t remember which one it was but was able to track it down via the book below.

    Jane Duncan was a very talented writer and deserves to be rediscovered but not everything in her work is cosy.

    • Adele Nicol,
      You certainly can’t unread that scene. I was lucky as I was able to buy quite a lot of her books in a charity shop in Aberdeen. I also have one of her books that she wrote under the name Janet Sandison but I haven’t got around to reading that one yet. I have a feeling I might have read some of them in the mid 1970s. I worked in the local library in Dumbarton then and borrowed Duncan and Sandison books for my mother-in-law and granny to read as they were regarded as being ‘safe’ for them. Thanks for the link and for dropping by and taking the time to comment.


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