Monday, 26 June 2017

Lillian Beckwith's Tales of Life On a Remote Hebridean Croft


I was trying to recall what first put me on to the books of Lillian Beckwith many years ago, most likely it was by happening to find a library book once that captivated me.  Whatever it was, I'm glad I made their acquaintance and collected them (though am still missing some other titles outside of this series), as they are a joy to read and have much humour and warmth and are filled with completely down-to-earth characters and amusing mishaps.  Despite the hard work and sometimes hardship, there's something alluring about someone taking off to a remote island or countryside and being free and getting by on their own, or nearly on their own, though this usually involves being blessed with the help of others (which is always reciprocated in the small community-people care about each other and don't want others to go without or be neglected).  Taking off to an old stone cottage in the remote Hebrides in Scotland for a doctor-ordered rest is just what Lillian Beckwith did in the beginning of this series, with book number one, 'The Hills Is Lonely', first published in 1959. 

At the beginning, when reading the offers for lodgings, in reply to her advert posted in a paper, this first one from a certain Hebridean crofter was the start of her new life: 

Dear Madam,    Its just now I saw your advert when I got the book for the knitting pattern I wanted from my cousin Catriona.  I am sorry I did not write sooner if you are fixed up if you are not in any way fixed up I have a good good stone house and tiles and my brother Ruari who will wash down with lime twice every year. Ruari is married and lives just by.  She is not damp.  I live by myself and you could have the room that is not a kitchen and a bedroom reasonable.  I was in the kitchen of the lairds house till lately when he was changed God rest his soul the poor old gentleman that he was.  You would be very welcomed.  I have a cow also for milk and eggs and the minister at the manse will be referee if you wish such.   Yours affectionately, MORAG McDUGAN
P.S. She is not thatched. 

 She loved it so much that she decided to stay and buy her own croft.  Her rest cure was abandoned as she found herself drawn in to working harder than she ever had in her life, and getting very healthy in the pure island atmosphere! And so this series continued on.


Here I will feature the lovely art on the dust jackets (for seven of the books) by Douglas Hall, which perfectly suits the stories. 


'The Sea For Breakfast'




'The Loud Halo'



'A Rope- In Case'


'Lightly Poached'



'Beautiful Just!'


'Bruach Blend'














6 comments:

  1. I'm looking forward to reading one or more of Lillian Beckwith's books. Thank you!

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    1. Hello, that's great, I'm sure you'll enjoy them!

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  2. Hello Lori, I happily was introduced to the first Lillian Beckwith book back in the early 90's , instantly fell in love with her and read every book I could get my hands on, even her lovely little auto-bio about where she grew up . I envy anyone who is only just discovering them as wish I could come to then anew ~ I did re-read some after a long space of not having read them and I was glad I had forgotten enough that it was almost as delightful as the first time but more like returning to people and a place I already knew I liked but just had forgotten some of their stories .

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    1. Hello Valkrye, they are excellent books indeed! I love books set on Scottish islands, they impart such a timeless feel. It's been quite some time since I've read these, so am due for a re-reading sometime. There is another, similar, series by another author that will feature here too, later.

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  3. Same here Lori, re: set in the Scottish islands (and Highlands) as they do have a sense of timelessness and if well written impart a sense of atmosphere unlike books set in England ~ If you know of some other authors whose books you really enjoy that are set in the highlands would love to know of them~ I have read some more contemporary mysteries set in places in Scotland and some in rural areas but they just are too contemporary if you know what I mean~ they do not have the same sort of language nor fee; that I suppose I am very nostalgic about in other older ones. and do not enjoy them nearly as ones written earlier ~ anytime from the 20's to the early 70's are probably my favorites. Having read your posts I know that you and I share very similar tastes in literature , music ect so if you do have any recommendations I know nothing about would welcome any suggestions! Speaking of Scottish island, although I have yet to find the book, did you ever happen to see the lovely series from a book done back in the 90's I think, called Oliver's Travels ' with Alan Bates and Sinead Cusack? If you enjoy a mystery , lovely scenery, history , some humour and a dash of romance I think you would enjoy the series )it is on dvd now I am fairly certain) It is a favorite now of mine although recorded on VHS which was all there was when it first appeared on tv ~ I probably watch it once a year so i can pretend I am off on a similar adventure with the inimitable Alan bates ~ and heading from wales up to Scotland on a quest .

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    1. I do so agree, love books in that atmosphere but I don't like them to be too contemporary, that sort of dialogue and tone can be so dull and unappealing. One writer you would like would be Sybil Armstrong's Clachan series, her books are very like Lillian Beckwith, I still have two of her books to get.
      Yes indeed! I have seen 'Oliver's Travels' several times, and like you, my only copy is on a videotape recorded off television too! It's the sort of thing that, no matter where you start, you keep watching, it's so intriguing. We should probably get the DVD sometime, shouldn't we? :)

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