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A Dark and Distant Shore

By (author) Reay Tannahill
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Cornerstone, London, United Kingdom
Imprint: Century
Published: 24th Mar 1983
Dimensions: w 150mm h 230mm
Weight: 1074g
ISBN-10: 0712600019
ISBN-13: 9780712600019
Barcode No: 9780712600019

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Kirkus UK
Beginning in 1803, and set in the Scottish Highlands, this huge generation-spanning romantic novel begins with Mungo Telfer, a self-made tobacco-baron about to buy a castle from its debt-ridden owner. The castle is Kinvail, and its loss and re-acquisition is the anchor to the plot. The heroine, Vilia Cameron, is seven at the time and pleads with her father not to give up the family home. She is an unusual child, intense and spirited, her curious blonde hair and pale complexion inherited from her Norwegian mother who died the year after arriving at the castle. After the sale Vilia and her father move to London. When he dies she is 15 and in the terms of his will has to live with a respectable family until she comes of age. That family are none other than Magnus Telfer, son of the man who bought Kinvail, and his wife and son, Luke, who has a sulky hatred for the interloper. In an attempt to rid herself of her obsession with her former home, Vilia enters into a loveless marriage with Captain Lauriston, but the relationship is doomed to fail - especially when Perry Randall becomes her lover and Vilia finds true happiness for the first time. But it cannot last as Perry is sent on an emigrant ship to Canada, leaving Vilia heartbroken and carrying his child. From this moment on the story weaves its way toward the inevitable return of Kinvail into the hands of Vilia's own family during a period of great colonial expansion. This is a lively and enjoyable novel with beautiful descriptions of the Highlands and plenty of local colour in the form of events such as kelping and brushes with the revenue men. Involving but undemanding, it's perfect holiday reading. (Kirkus UK)
Kirkus US
This dynasty whopper (1803-1895), centered on one Scottish woman's obsession with her castle birthright, is misty with Scottish scenery and rural festivals - but it's also downright foggy with a plethora of forgettable, spawning generations. Villa Cameron is seven when her debt-ridden father sells his dead wife's ancestral castle, Kinveil, with its spread of mountain loch and fiver, to a tradesman of humble origins, elderly Mungo Teller. And though wee Villa tries to push mighty Mungo off a parapet, he'll prove to be her dear friend: he even sees that she has a home as a young woman with his stuffy son Magnus, Magnus' gentle wife Lucy, and their bratty son Luke. Later, then, Villa makes a deadly marriage with foundry heir Andrew Lauriston, a repressive stick, bearing him two sons, Gideon and Theo. Thus, while Andrew dies in battle, Villa becomes pregnant (with baby Drew) by dashing Perry Randall, husband of Mungo's daughter Charlotte. And, after the suspicious death of her foundry-king father-in-law, Villa takes over the foundry with enormous success. The Perry/Villa affair goes through complex ups and downs; after Mungo's death Magnus is installed at Kinveil, with Luke, who's been interning and improving in social consciousness during a period of clearances and oppression of peasantry. (Luke even proposes to Villa - but, suspecting Vilia's love for Perry, reverts to type, and is levied in a burning peasant's hut.) More trouble ensues when Drew and Charlotte's daughter Shona elope and Theo's "unnatural" leanings cause grief for Magnus' other child, Juliana. And finally, after Villa weds pill-some Magnus, there's a slew of marriages, some miserable, with many offspring and deaths ("accidents" and suicides) - plus a family-tree-pruning finale as the skeletons in Vilia's closet rattle forth. Over-thick with the usual domestic criss-crossings through the generations - even if Villa is moderately winning. (Kirkus Reviews)