"FUIMUS - We Have Been"

"FUIMUS - We Have Been!" motto of Clan Bruce

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Monday, 10 October 2016

BOOK NOOK; White Rose Rebel by Janet Paisley

"Maybe it was just pride and he wasn't man enough to admit being wrong. Maybe he couldn't face Anne, humbled, and back down. Not to the woman he loved..."

White Rose Rebel is the first novel I have ever read that takes place, in part, at Fort George among the Black Watch.   It tells the story of Anne Farquharson, a woman who is in love with two men. The first is Alexander, a Jacobite and the second is Aeneas, a soldier in the Black Watch ...so far, so my life and this book has certainly turned my mind towards thoughts of Inverness!

It is a very Scottish book, written in the mingled languages of English, Scots and Gaelic (translations are at the back of the book) and the Scots accent leaps from every page.  It is quite bawdy and vulgar in places, but then that's the Scots for you - to say they're oversexed would be an understatement!  In fairness there was little else to do in the Highlands in the 18th Century.  It's an atmospheric read and I could almost breathe in the fresh mountain air and smell the pine forests and the heather of the Highlands as my eyes drank in the descriptions of places I know and love. 

Anne is a valiant supporter of Bonnie Prince Charlie and her dearest wish is to see the Stuart King restored and the Union with England broken.  It is basically a story of the Scottish bid for Independence and the events that lead up to the final Jacobite Uprising of 1745.  Please note - it's an Uprising - it's only a Rebellion if you're totally English, which I'm not.

I found this book to be very moving and I had a physical response to it.  In the run up to the Battle of Culloden I had butterflies in my stomach and a feeling of dread, as I knew what was coming. Reading the battle scene was heart-rending and I had tears in my eyes.  I have been to the battle site of Culloden Moor; I have photos of it on my phone and I could visualise the battle clearly in my mind's eye. It was a difficult few chapters to read, as history repeated itself on the page. 

Anne is a figure from history that I had never come across before, and while this is a fictionalised version of her part in the Uprising, she was a known Jacobite in her own right.  I didn't warm to her as a character though, largely because she has an over-developed sense of entitlement and uses both the men she loves to provide for her every need and whim.  She is demanding and belligerent and I felt sorry for the Scotsmen having to deal with women like her on a daily basis and provide for them.  I only began to sympathise with Anne towards the end of the story, when she is faced with the consequences of her actions and has developed a sense of humility.

Reading about the destruction of the Clans was tough as well.  The aftermath of Culloden was brutal; the banning of tartan made me stop reading and put on my red tartan arasaid in defiance!  I also learnt things from this novel - for instance, that the Fort George I have seen on my visits to the Highlands was actually built in order to keep the Scots in check, after Culloden. Ironic that the bag-pipes that were banned at the time now play loud and proud at the Fort George Highland Tattoo each year!  

Sad too, that the Scots Regiments of Fort George are usually some of the first soldiers deployed by the modern UK government and the fighting spirit of the Highlanders is now shackled to the whim of Westminster and the Crown.  If only more had voted "YES" in 2014 the Scots could have won their Independence. Alas the Jacobites fell in vain.

If you like Scottish history or you have enjoyed the Outlander series then you will love White Rose Rebel.  It is a gripping read and it has made me even more excited for my return to the Highlands in September next year, when I go to Dornoch.  I really can't wait for that! And yes, I will be wearing my Bruce tartan and Clan brooch! The Jacobite spirit lives on.

You can buy the novel by clicking here   Enjoy! 

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