An Innocent in Scotland: More Curious Rambles and Singular Encounters

David W. McFadden, Author McClelland & Stewart $18.95 (360p) ISBN 978-0-7710-5528-7
McFadden brings wit, verve and a talent for dialogue to this chronicle of his summer's wander through Scotland. Following a formula familiar from a previous work (An Innocent in Ireland), McFadden loosely traces the path of H.V. Morton (In Search of Scotland), a 1920s travel writer whose books on Ireland and Scotland serve as a rough framing device for his own book. McFadden's journey unfolds as a collection of anecdotes, loosely grouped around one site or region (Miracle at St. Ninian's Cave; High Road to Glasgow). The traveler deftly captures the spontaneity of his many conversations and willingly partakes in the local flavor--even when it includes haggis, a pudding made from sheep viscera, or Bovril, a hearty brew that ""looked like coffee, smelled like roast beef."" He provides intriguing historical background to the places he visits, failing only when he stops at Loch Ness and leaves its alluring legend completely unfathomed. But McFadden generally steers clear of traditional attractions, being happier instead to highlight a windy wheat field that looks ""like schools of green fish in yellow waters,"" to share the ""brilliant Dark Age compromise"" of how Aberdeen got its name, or to point out the country shop that, with more deference to pride than grammar, boasts, ""We fry in vegetable oil."" Entertaining and descriptive, McFadden's book will leave readers with an enlightened sense of the Scottish way of life. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 04/19/1999
Release date: 04/01/1999
Genre: Nonfiction
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