The Far Side of the Hill

Nancy Livingston, Author St. Martin's Press $19.95 (480p) ISBN 978-0-312-02207-5
In this richly peopled, bittersweet saga of the McKies, a crofter family in remote Scotland, we are treated to an intimate experience of life in the Victorian period. For Alex and his wife Jeannie, the only hope for release from grinding poverty lies in the education of their two sons, John and Davie. With selfless love, they entrust the two boys to a redoubtable schoolteacher, Helen Shields, who begins the arduous preparation for the classical education to which they aspire. The teacher remains a pivotal figure in their lives, even when a financial debacle prevents the McKies from fulfilling their dream that John will become a doctor. Although the boys do not get to university, they do reach the city of Darlington, near London, where by a self-imposed schedule of rigorous discipline, tempered with brotherly support, they become merchants of some importance. As the brothers mature, their different personalities emergeJohn is dour and business-minded; Davie, expansive and romantic. Reflecting this difference, the marriage of Davie and his self-indulgent wife is sensuous and fruitful, but for John, who has married a crippled woman from his village because of what he construes as moral obligation, the joy comes late. Instead, his affection is lavished on his wife's illegitimate child, Luke, who will fulfill the McKies's dream by earning a medical degree. Livingston's previous books ( Incident at Parga , Fatality at Bath and Wells ) were well-received mysteries. In her first historical novel, she proves herself a skilled storyteller conveying the drama in unheralded lives. (September)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987
Release date: 01/01/1987
Paperback - 480 pages - 978-0-944276-71-6
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