Friday, 22 March 2013

"White Rose Rebel" by Janet Paisley

(Penguin, 2007)
Anne Farquharson was a Highland woman who fought to free her land from the harsh rule of the English. She knew she couldn’t live in their world, which King George was slowly enforcing onto her country. The English stifled their women and cared nothing for traditions. Anne did not want to become a meek and submissive woman. She did not want to have no say in how her clan was run. Neither did she want to lose her culture. So when Bonnie Prince Charlie sails from France to reclaim the Scottish throne, there was no hesitation for Anne. She rose up with him.
That was not the case for her husband, Aeneas. Their marriage was a fiery one, built on passion. There seemed to be no room for love, for when Anne gathered her clan, he joined the Black Watch. They argued. They fought. And through many misunderstandings, Anne went back to her first love, Alexander MacGillivray. But Aeneas did love her. Still, they ended up on opposite sides of the field in a battle between the Jacobites and the English, sometimes at the end of the other’s pistol.
The book was an entertaining read for the first part. It was a bit of a romp in the hay at times, but the sex didn’t really bother me. Looking at other reviews of this book, this seemed to be a problem for some people. Maybe it was gratuitous, who am I to say, but Anne was young. That’s what young people do. They have crazy libido. In any case, there was a bit of political intrigue there, too. There were the English antagonists, betting on how long it would take to stop the rebellion, being surprised when it wasn’t so easy, and being damn brutal. Which brings me to the second part.
The second part of the book, more towards the end really, was very depressing (Culloden – if you are even a little familiar with Scottish history I’m guessing you know what that battle meant). Janet Paisely mentions the word genocide in the afterword, and this really seems to be the case here. It was a little gruesome. It was very frustrating. I wished I could somehow get Connor from Assassin’s Creed III to come out and deal with the redcoats. But I couldn’t, so I just kept reading. The end didn’t completely satisfy me.
Despite that, I did like the book. It was engrossing. I enjoyed the characters, even if they were a little bit cliché. They had personality, which doesn’t make sense after what I just said but trust me it does. MacGillivray was probably my favorite. I’m not sure how much of the history was true and how much was made up, but I did learn something. I hadn’t really been familiar with Scottish history in the 18th century or the clan system either.
I wish I knew how to pronounce the Gaelic words tossed around and at least there is a translation that goes along with it on the page or in the back of the book. There was a bit of French thrown around too, which for people who don’t understand might make them scratch their head, but it’s not a lot and easy to guess the gist if you don’t understand.
My rating: 4/5
For another great book set in Scotland, but in an earlier time period, check out Jules Watson’s Dalriada trilogy. I highly recommend this series.

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