Fanatical doings

13 04 2009

The Fanatic by James Robertson

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It is Spring 1997 and Hugh Hardie needs a ghost for his Tours of Old Edinburgh. Andrew Carlin is the perfect candidate. So, with cape, stick and a plastic rat, Carlin is paid to pretend to be the spirit of Colonel Weir and to scare the tourists. But who is Colonel Weir, executed for witchcraft in 1670. In his research, Carlin is drawn into the past, in particular to James Mitchel, the fanatic and co-congregationist of Weir’s, who was tried in 1676 for the attempted assassination of the Archbishop of St Andrews, James Sharp. Through the story of two moments in history, The Fanatic is an extraordinary history of Scotland. It is also the story of betrayals, witch hunts, Puritan exiles, stolen meetings, lost memories, smuggled journeys and talking mirrors which will confirm James Robertson as a distinctive and original Scottish writer.

A really terrific book this which convincingly portrays 17th Century Scotland in all its madness. Particularly enjoyed references to the Bass Rock (see picture at top of blog above). Some of the older Scots (and a little of the more contemporary) is a bit of a challenge in places but well worth sticking with.

Strongly recommended.

4 star

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