Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs at http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/
Terry has been reading Turn of the Tide by Margaret Skea
Set in Scotland in the late sixteenth century, Turn of the Tide’s central character is Munro, who is caught between his allegiance to the Cunninghame clan and his friendships with the rival Montgomeries, and also between his active part in this ancient feud and the demands of his family; his desire to protect them is at the root of all he does, but his dedication to those in power mean that he spends much time away from wife Kate and his twins.
Reading this story I felt transported back to the time, a necessity for me when reading historical fiction. All aspects of day to day life of the era have been researched in detail, and written in such a way that adds so much to the novel. Margaret Skea clearly has a great love for the history and the country, and this shines through in the writing.
There is no doubt that this is well written in many ways, with Munro and young William Glencairn, in particular, becoming three dimensional very quickly. The dialogue is written formally, in the style of the time (as far as I could see) and sometimes this adds authenticity, but at other times it halts the flow. Also, there are so very many characters and I had trouble remembering who was who and whose allegiance was to whom, which made it flow even less well, because I kept having to refer back to previous chapters. The other slight problem I had with it was a few instances of incorrect punctuation: missing commas and a few semicolons that should have been commas, but there are only a few and would probably only bother someone who is particularly picky about such things.
I liked the intrigue at court and the subtle humour in some of the dialogue, but I found this novel a little too slow and confusing for me to say that I really enjoyed it; I wanted to like it more than I did. Margaret Skea is an accomplished writer who has won much acclaim and many awards, so if you like intelligent, detailed, literary historical fiction you may well enjoy this. It just didn’t quite tick the boxes for me.
Old rivalries…new friendships…dangerous decisions.
Set in 16th Century Scotland Munro owes allegiance to the Cunninghames and to the Earl of Glencairn. Trapped in the 150-year-old feud between the Cunninghames and the Montgomeries, he escapes the bloody aftermath of an ambush, but he cannot escape the disdain of the wife he sought to protect, or his own internal conflict. He battles with his conscience and with divided loyalties – to age-old obligations, to his wife and children, and, most dangerous of all, to a growing friendship with the rival Montgomerie clan. Intervening to diffuse a quarrel that flares between a Cunninghame cousin and Hugh Montgomerie, he succeeds only in antagonizing William, the arrogant and vicious Cunninghame heir. And antagonizing William is a dangerous game to play…
About the author
Margaret Skea grew up in Ulster at the height of the ‘Troubles’, but now lives with her husband in the Scottish Borders.
An interest in Scotland’s turbulent history, and in particular the 16th century, combined with PhD research into the Ulster-Scots vernacular, led to the writing of Turn of the Tide, which was the Historical Fiction Winner in the 2011 Harper Collins / Alan Titchmarsh People’s Novelist Competition and the Beryl Bainbridge Award for Best First Time Author 2014.
An Hawthornden Fellow and award winning short story writer – her recent credits include, Overall Winner Neil Gunn 2011, Chrysalis Prize 2010, and Winchester Short Story Prize 2009. Third in the Rubery Book Award Short Story Competition 2013, a finalist in the Historical Novel Society Short Story Competition 2012, shortlisted in the Mslexia Short Story Competition 2012 and long-listed for the Historical Novel Society Short Story competition 2014, the Matthew Pritchard Award, the Fish Short Story and Fish One Page Prize, she has been published in a range of magazines and anthologies in Britain and the USA.
New collection of short stories – including some those from competitions mentioned above available for pre-order now.