News and Reviews- a day late.
And today: my review on Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott.
The book tells of a young merchant's son, Frank Osbaldistone. He writes a letter to his father's partner's son, and thus the entire book is written in the first person, recounting events from the protagonist's youth.
Frank's father is a successful merchant and avid protestant, but was born to an aristocratic,. Catholic family in Northumberland (in the Scottish borders). His turning protestant and choosing to earn his bread by trade has caused a rift between him and his family, mostly his brother, Sir Hildebrand who inherited the baronetcy.
Mr. Osbaldistone calls his son Frank home from his studies in France, to initiate him into the family business. But Frank, who is young and has a romantic spirit, refuses to follow in his father's footsteps. He wants to write poetry. This, to a puritan like his father, is akin to devil worship.
To punish him for his impetuousness, his father sends him to the house, or rather, estate, of his estranged brother up north, and takes as an apprentice his youngest nephew, (youngest of five of Sir Hildebrand's sons) Rashleigh Osbaldistone.
On the route up north Frank encounters a traveler, who takes special care , to the point of paranoia, of his portmanteau (Luggage). To amuse himself on the road, Frank teases the traveler (Mr. Morris) that he will abscond with his parcel. This game proves a bad choice.
Frank arrives at his uncle's estate, and finds it a hedonistic household, consumed, like many of the period's country nobility, with hunting and drink. In fact he is mocked for not overindulging in those pursuits like his five indolent, unintelligent cousins. The only intelligent of the lot is Rashleigh, of whom Frank soon makes a rival and enemy, because of the house's other inmate.
She is Diana, or Die Vernon, daughter of a presumably dead Jacobite. Sir Hildebrand is her maternal uncle. She is promised in marriage to one of the Osbaldistone cousins, and she must, by that decree, wed one of them or go to a convent.
Since the oldest boy is a numpty, the main contender for her hand is Rashleigh, who is devilishly intelligent and acts as her tutor. However, Frank our hero soon falls in love with her, and this, along with his discovery of Rashleigh's ungallant behaviour towards her, makes them into bitter enemies. Rashleigh tries to implicate Frank in a robbery, where in Morris's portmanteau was stolen from him. Frank's jest that he will take it almost has him convicted.
Rashleigh goes to London to Frank's father's service, but proves false hearted. He steals some bonds. This almost causes Mr. Osbaldistone's financial ruin. Frank learns of this from Die, and goes to Scotland to retrieve the money, and to save his name from again being implicated in the robbery. During his voyage there he becomes entangled in historical affairs of the Jacobite rebellion.
So, what did I think of this classic novel?
What I liked is that , despite some anachronisms, the novel is firmly planted in historical events. I liked that there was a lot of action, especially towards the ending, and the happy resolution of the novel. I liked the character of Rob Roy, who is more like a cameo appearance, despite the novel bearing his name. I also liked the characters of Nicole Jarvy and Diana.
Not so with the main character, Frank, who's a bit of a Mary Sue, too perfect, honorable and good, and yet manages to be impetuous, childish and aggravating.
The action and historical events also get a bit confusing and I sometimes had to reread to understand what exactly was happening, and who was against whom.
I also loved the fact that a lot of the dialogue is in Scots dialect, with nuisances differentiating between character of different origins, and that every episode starts with a quote, many of them from ballads and folklore.
All in all it's a nice read, although can be tedious at times.
- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: Words Classics (6 September 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781853262531
- ISBN-13: 978-1853262531
- ASIN: 1853262536
- Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.5 x 20.3 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 249 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 308,173 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)