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Scotland: Her Story, The Nation's History by the Women Who Lived It

by Rosemary Goring

From the saintly, but severe, medieval Queen Margaret to today's First Minister of the Scottish Parliament, Nicola Sturgeon, this collection of writing by and about women in Scotland over the past thousand years is impressive and engaging. Drawing on court and kirk records, exchequer rolls and treasurer's accounts, diaries and memoirs, chapbooks and newspapers, government reports and eyewitness statements, Scotland: Her Story brings to life the half of history that has for too long been hidden or ignored. This is testimony from all ranks of women, from royalty to commoners, from the educated to the near-illiterate, carefully sifted and selected. The result is an entertaining and gripping compendium of the dramatic, the tragic, the grisly, the moving and the hilarious.

Swimming with Seals

by Victoria Whitworth

When Victoria Whitworth shares her experiences of swimming in the waters around Orkney, a daily ritual over the years she lived there, the result is about far more than swimming. "The truth is," she writes, "the landscape in front of me has been overwritten many times across thousands of years, scraped back by forces of geology and weather as well as human activity, revised and inscribed again." First published as Facebook posts, the narrative uses swimming as the jumping off point for fascinating digressions on everything from the rich history of Orkney to the echo-locating abilities of orcas and the 13th-century Orkneyinga Saga.

North Coast Journey

by Brigid Benson

This is the essential guide to the beautiful routes through the Highlands, some of Scotland's fasting growing tourist destinations. The journey begins in Inverness, weaves west to Applecross and north towards Torridon. From Ullapool it leads to the most northerly points in Britain, passing by Caithness and John o' Groats before heading south again through Dingwall and to Inverness. In addition to stunning mountains, moors, lochs and beaches, the route also features exquisite towns and villages, castles, distilleries, breweries, natural wonders and wildlife.

Brigid Benson, who knows the road intimately, divides the route into manageable chunks, suggesting where to discover history, observe wildlife, meet great local characters, shop at quirky stores, taste outstanding food, drink in friendly bars and cafes, while also recommending places to camp and stay, picnic, swim, surf, walk and stargaze. Along the way, she offers useful advice on single track roads, fuel, car problems, planning realistic itineraries and much more.

An Illustrated Treasury of Scottish Folk and Fairy Tales

by Theresa Breslin and illustrated by Kate Leiper

Slithering stoorworms, mischievous brownies, fierce kelpies and magical selkies -- these are the creatures of Scottish folklore. Award-winning children's author Theresa Breslin has collected the best-loved tales from all over Scotland. Her stories are funny, moving and enchanting, encouraging the reader to soar with the goshawk, dive with selkies and battle with the stoorworm, as each story is brought to life with exquisite illustrations by Scottish fine artist Kate Leiper. This is a truly stunning book to be treasured for a lifetime and will be enjoyed by parents and grandparents as well as children.

subscribe Full reviews of these books are available in the Winter 2019 issue of Scottish Life.

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