A Reading List for Loch an Eilein Cottage

Our pick of fiction and non-fiction titles for World Book Day 2019, perfect for reading before or during your stay

There are shelves upon shelves full of books for even the most avid bookworm at both Loch an Eilein Cottage and Forest Cottage, but we’ve put together a list of some recommendations for reading before you get here, just to whet your appetite for a slice of Highland life, or perhaps to kindle an interest in Highland history. Some would also be wonderful to read curled up in front of the woodburning stove, on a dark and stormy night….

Here is our pick of fiction and non-fiction titles in honour of World Book Day.

Fiction:

Whisky Galore, Compton Mackenzie - The quintessential wartime-Britain romp, based on true events and later made into a wonderful Ealing comedy (and another version in 2016). Canny locals have to outwit the authorities when a ship full of whisky runs aground on their little Scottish island.Did you know: the BBC series of Monarch of the Glen, based on novels by Compton Mackenzie, was filmed just down the road near Newtonmore, with Ardverikie House standing in as fictional Glenbogle.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon - The books which have been called “Scotland’s answer to Game of Thrones” and have been made into a blockbusting, swashbuckling global television series, Outlander is nothing short of a phenomenon! Thanks in part to its plucky hero and feminist heroine Jamie and Claire Fraser, these books have helped put Scotland and the Highlands on bucket-lists the world over and spawned an entire industry of Outlander themed tours, copycat books and memorabilia. Try as you might, you really can’t help but get swept along in the passion, excitement, adventure and intrigue of this time-travelling saga.Did you know: Some of the opening credits were filmed very close to the cottage at Tullochgrue.

Death of a Ghost, MC Beaton One of the wonderful series of Hamish MacBeth novels and another literary series which made it onto our screens - TV viewers clearly can’t get enough of the Scottish Highlands!. We chose this particular title out of the many that the author wrote because of its setting - a ruined castle, which is said to be haunted. Lights are seen at night and ghostly noises heard, so the intrepid Hamish and a colleague resolve to spend a night there and solve the mystery...but do they make it till morning? (Note: We do not recommend you try this during your stay. You will be far more comfortable in your bed at Loch an Eilein or Forest Cottage than in a roofless castle ruin, we are quite sure.)

The Hunting Party, by Lucy Foley. An Agatha Christie-style country house murder mystery which takes place over Hogmanay, in a lodge in the Scottish Highlands…this is just our cup of tea for a quiet night in! Or perhaps to while away the time during a flight or train journey here. Did you know: Author Lucy Foley was inspired to write this novel after staying in a Highland lodge which she thought would be the perfect setting for a book. As far as we know, nobody was murdered during her stay…

Non-fiction:

The Cairngorms: A Secret History by Patrick Baker is book which took the author years to research, investigating many of the places and stories around our mountains. There are tales of “skeletal remains of aircraft debris, an ancient gem mine, an outlaw’s hideaway and a mysterious aristocratic settlement”. Some of these stories and place names will be familiar, like The Old Grey Man of Ben MacDui - a favourite local ghost story - but some have been hidden for generations. The last chapter of Baker’s book will lead you to the next title in our selection - Nan Shepherd’s unique and extraordinary little book, The Living Mountain.

The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd was written in the last half of World War II, but after being initially rejected by publishers, was stuffed away into a drawer in manuscript form, only to re-emerge in 1977. Patrick Baker describes the short book as “a spiritualised, philosophical discourse”, and it celebrates the Cairngorms range in an extraordinarily holistic and multi-sensory way, with observations and descriptions that are beautifully emotive. You will truly be transported with Nan on her immersive journeys, when she describes exploring and wandering the Cairngorms “merely to be with the mountains as one visits a friend.”

Great Battles: Culloden, by Murray Pittock - There have been innumerable books written on the battle of Culloden, but this 2016 title gives the tragic battle a fresh perspective thanks to recent historical research and has quickly become one of the authoritative titles on the subject. Not the lightest of reading on our list, but it’s “fresh, concise, free from jargon and well informed about realities” said Books of the Year 2016, History Today.

Memoirs of a Highland Lady, Elizabeth Grant - We couldn’t possibly leave out this charming journal, written between 1845 and 1854. The Scotsman calls it ‘A masterpiece of historical and personal recall”, but the real reason you’ll want to read it is the setting - Rothiemurchus. And delightfully there are passages set in Loch an Eilein Cottage itself. Relive the intriguing ups and downs of Elizabeth’s personal and social life, and sit just as she did, turning the pages of her diary whilst looking out onto Loch an Eilein from the window seat...

And if something on our list takes your fancy and you don’t manage to pick up a copy before you arrive, don’t worry! We have a brilliant little Waterstones in Aviemore which stocks all these titles. Staff there are really knowledgeable and can recommend other books of local interest too. Happy reading!

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