Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott – The Classics Club spin # 35

I wasn’t too thrilled when I got this book in the Classics Club spin, but I feel that I should read Scott’s novels and putting them on my list is the way to do it for me.

Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott was first published in 1818, but the setting is around about 1715, just before the first Jacobite Rising but the story begins in the south of England, Frank Osbaldistone narrates the tale.

Frank’s father owns a succesful business which he expects Frank as his only child to take over, but Frank has no intention of being tied down to something that he knows he wouldn’t enjoy. He refuses to follow his father into his business, which disappoints and upsets the father so much that he says that Frank must leave home, he’s cutting him off.  His father had been looking forward to the company and friendship of Frank now that he’s an adult. Frank doesn’t really believe that his father will throw him out of the family home, but he does, he also gives Frank the task of visiting the home of Frank’s uncle and cousins who are strangers to Frank as the senior Osbaldistone brothers had fallen out years ago, due to religious differences. Frank is to ask the eldest cousin Rashleigh to replace him in the family business, Frank almost changes his mind about refusing to work for his father.

Frank travels to their home in the north of England and meets his uncle, six male cousins and their relative the lovely Die Vernon whom Frank falls for. Rashleigh sets off for England and his new position, but eventually Frank hears news that Rashleigh has not been the good and dutiful businessman he has been expected to be, and Frank’s father’s whole business is in danger.

There’s a lot more to the story than this as Frank gets involved with Jacobite Highlanders and Rob Roy MacGregor, whom he had met earlier when he was calling himself Campbell.

I found the beginning of this book really hard going as Scott would never use one word when he could write two hundred, and it makes everything very dense, but towards  the end I felt my way through the fog, (I think) I was glad to reach the end of the 455 pages of quite small print. I think it’ll be a while before I tackle another book by Walter Scott.

When the book was first published it kicked off tourism in Scotland as people wanted to visit the locations mentioned in the book, and that continues to this day. I intend to visit some of the places that I haven’t been to already, but I grew up close to some of the locations. My gran was a MacGregor.

If you’re interested in seeing Abbotsford, Sir Walter Scott’s home, have a look at my previous blogposts about it here.


The Classics Club spin 35 – it’s number 2

The Classics Club Spin number has been chosen and it’s number 2. For me that means that by December the 3rd I should read and review Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott.

I just went to my Scott bookshelves and it turns out that it’s one that I don’t actually have! Either that or it’s gone walkabout. Fear not though, the library will supply one for me and it will be  a modern copy with decent print. My Walter Scott books are over 100 years old with teeny wee print which is why I’ve been putting off reading so many of them.

Did you join in with the spin this time around?

The Classics Club spin result – it’s number 6

The Classics Club Spin number is 6. I’m quite happy about that. My number 6 is The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham. I’m sure I read this one way back in the 1970s when I had a bit of a Maugham binge, but I can’t remember a thing about it although when I begin to read it it might come back to me. It’s a long time to January the 29th though and I hope to read a few others from my list before that date, specifically Maugham’s Christmas Holiday which might get me into the mood for Christmas – but might not.

The Classics Club Spin -The Sinful Priest/Abbe Mouret’s Transgression/La Curee

The Classics Club Spin date seems to come around so quickly, but I just managed to get this one finished on time.

The Sinful Priest/Abbe Mouret's Transgression cover

The Sinful Priest which also goes under the name Abbe Mouret’s Transgression is the third book in Emile Zola’s Rougon Macquart series, quite a lot of which I’ve enjoyed in the past, but sadly I can’t say the same for this one.

It begins with a young priest called Serge who has a very dilapidated church in a country area. He really has no congregation at all but is helped by young Vincent, his server. Serge’s younger sister Desiree lives with him, but she is lacking mentally, is very childlike and lives for her animals – chickens, rabbits and a cow. Serge does have a housekeeper, an old woman La Teuse from the village.

Serge is very devout and is particularly attached to the Virgin Mary, in fact the local Christian Brother/Jesuit? named Brother Archangias has warned Serge about what he sees as an unhealthy obsession which he says is “veritable robbery of devotion due to God.” Archangias seems to think that all females lead to sin.

There follows a long section of the book which is about Serge’s – what I think nowadays is called Marianism. I thought it would never come to an end and I found the endless parade of adjectives and purple prose to be tedious in the extreme.

Then Serge goes to visit an estate called Paradou and while there he becomes ill. Nursed back to health by the landowner’s daughter the inevitable happens. This section is so obviously the Adam and Eve story, with Brother Archangias getting involved. Things do not end well, but there is a lot more purple prose.

It’s hard to believe that the same author who wrote Germinal wrote this one, but as I’ve been reading the Rougon Maquart series over the years I would have got around to this one eventually, so I don’t feel that it was wasted time.

The Master of Ballantrae by R.L. Stevenson – Classics Club Spin

The tale is told by Ephraim McKellar, the steward of the estate belonging to Durie of Durrisdeer in Scotland. The laird of Durrisdeer has two adult sons and as the 1745 Jacobite uprising is about to begin sides have to be taken. It’s a dangerous time for landed estates as supporting the losing side will mean that they will lose everything. To avoid this disaster familes with two sons have one son, usually the younger one supporting the Jacobites while the eldest one supports the status quo, King George. But James Durie the eldest is keen to leave home for the more exciting prospect of the rebellion and decides to toss a coin to do so, of course he wins the toss which leaves his brother Henry at home.

Henry is very much the ‘spare’ heir as far as his father is concerned. The father can’t stop talking about James as if he’s some sort of hero whereas in reality he’s a ‘right bad yin’. When the Jacobites lose the Duries eventually get word that James has been killed and the father persuades Henry to marry James’s fiancee, and that’s as far as I’ll go with this one.

I can’t say that it’s one of my favourites by Stevenson, I really disliked the whole idea of the father favouring his eldest son to such an extent, and the younger brother ending up more or less being mentally tortured by him, but that’s my problem. I felt so sorry for Henry that I really couldn’t enjoy the story and it has a really sad ending.

I could definitely have been doing with something more uplifting, but don’t let me put you off reading this one! You might really enjoy it as so many people seem to have done.

The Classics Club Spin

Well The Classics Club Spin number has been announced and it’s 10 – so that means that I will be reading The Talsiman by Sir Walter Scott before January 1st.

I had been hoping for A Tramp Abroad by Mark Twain which was number 9 but I plan to read that one soon anyway. The only thing that worries me is that I have a vague memory of trying to read The Talisman when I was about 12 or 13 and giving up on it, and I was very loathe to give up on books even way back then.

On the other hand Christy @ A Good Stopping Point commented that she found The Talisman to be a fun read, so I live in hope!