Books 2010

Books 2009

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Saturday, 15 September 2007


I used to love reading the Buchan novels you mention as a teenager, especially at my parent's cottage in Perthshire in winter by a good fire with the wind howling in the slates - very atmospheric. Sadly I do not think I have read any of them again for nearly 30 years, perhaps I should be inspired by your article to seek them out this New Year when I hope again to be up in Perthshire again.

Mr Standfast IS good, but if you love Scotland, the Dickson McCunn books are fun too (Huntingtower, Castle Gay). Many thanks to our Edinburgh correspondent for the interesting article by James Buchan!

I so love the 39 Steps but have not read any of these others. Must seek them out -- Mr Standfast sounds great.

I have read The 39 Steps, but I don't think I realized that there were more titles with the same hero. I must keep an eye out.

For readers south of the border, there's a piece by James Buchan (J.B.'s grandson) on what inspired Sick Heart River in today's Scotsman :

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  • Nothing is of greater consolation to the author of a novel than the disovery of readings he had not conceived but which are then prompted by his readers. (Umberto Eco, Reflections on The Name of the Rose)
  • ... relatively few persons in London ... can afford the luxury of one or more servants. No fewer than 3,700,000 have no servants at all, and of the half million that have servants 227,000 have only one. (The Times, 6 June 1895)
  • Standing among savage scenery, the hotel offers stupendous revelations. There is a French widow in every bedroom, affording delightful prospects. (Tyrolean inn brochure, according to Gerard Hoffnung)
  • (A doctor is at an elderly relative's deathbed) "The old sawbones, eh?" he bellowed ... "Just in the nick, perhaps. Haul the old girl back by the short hairs, if you ask me. Devilish smart at his work ... Always take a fence with more confidence when I know he's out with us."
  • Too often, when a man of Monty Godkin's mental powers is plunged in thought, nothing happens at all. The machinery just whirs for a while, and that is the end of it. (P G Wodehouse, Heavy Weather)
  • ...the breed that take their pleasures as Saint Laurence took his grid (Kipling, The Five nations)

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