Thursday, January 26, 2012

25th January 2012

This is a special day. It's Robert Burns' birthday. All over the world people celebrate this wonderful poet with a special supper. The menu always has haggis, and there is a toast to this simple but delicious dish. Its wonderful when someone reads "An Address to the Haggis" in a rip roaring Scottish accent. There are lots of other things to eat too and last but not least, there is the Immortal Memory, where someone will talk about Robert Burns.
This is my first year without a Burns supper to go to. Last year I went up to Scotland and stayed at a lovely hotel and enjoyed a Burns Supper and dance with lots of like-minded souls. It was wonderful. When John was here we used to have our own Burns Supper We had regular guests who came every year and we also invited two new people. These people only came once but it made each Burns Night different and special. I know that everyone enjoyed it.In our little house there was no room for "the dance" but there was lots of good, Scottish music and the food was wonderful, all prepared by John.
It was John's idea to have a Burns supper many, many years ago. He maintained that things went flat after Christmas. He loved Scottish dancing and used to be good at it too. His dad was in The Black Watch Scottish regiment, hence his love of all things Scottish. I had a closer connection to Scotland coming from a long line of MacLennan and MacDonald and McKechnie.
Burns deserves this remembrance, he was a brilliant poet, who can forget his wonderful poem A Man's a Man for All that which has such relevance today. He was a handsome devil too and a man for the lassies too. I visited his family home in Alloa what a tiny cottage it was and yet it is full of atmosphere. If you are ever visiting Scotland this is a place you should visit.
So for the sake of Auld Lang Syne have a toast to Rabbie Burns.He deserves his place in literature.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Review at Amazon

I am conscious that I have not been keeping up with this blog.However, I was in Florida for Christmas and that is my good excuse. Basking in the warmth of that lovely Florida sun, but importantly, basking in the company of my family. The latter always the very best thing about my trip.

While I was away I was contacted by a reader who had read A Sprig of Broom and who had also been kind enough to put up a review on Amazon. Such a treat and one for which I am very grateful to AC and especially for the five stars. I thought I would share the review with you here.

In the meantime please let me with you all a very Happy New Year.

5.0 out of 5 stars ONE OF THE VERY BEST IN THAT GENRE !!!, December 29, 2011
AC - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Sprig Of Broom (Kindle Edition)
One more time Margaret Blake delivers a powerful tale full of danger at every corner. The action takes place at the end of the civil war between two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: the houses of Lancaster and York; one of them won. Now is a time of reckoning, there will be no mercy for traitors. In these very uncertain times the life of a man means nothing, and the life of a woman even less.

This is the story of a noble young woman, Lady Cecily Hadfield, courageous, strong but also willful; who like many other women at that time is only a little pawn on a big chessboard, where no matter what happens, men always win. Power and greed is their creed. Caught in the world of political ambition and intrigue she tries desperately to navigate on troubled water.

The new king "gives" her to a Welsh barbarian, Thomas Cadwallader, and she can do nothing about it. She is utterly powerless and quite alone, no one will come to her rescue. The only thing she can do is to stay true to herself no matter what. She will have to be the wife of that man, there is no way out of it. He will own her body but he will never own her mind and her soul, never! She sees this new king and her new husband as murderers and usurpers, nothing more, nothing less.

Cecily and Thomas clash at first and this is an understatement. She taunted him each and every day tirelessly. I was not sure at the beginning if I was going to like her or not, but on the other hand I could understand why she acted this way. All I can say is that Thomas's tolerance to his wife was pretty high but only up to a point! Behind his cold demeanor Thomas is a good person but his pride is often a hindrance.

Page after page something happens, there is no rest. Each time Cecily says something outrageous to her husband, he reacts of course and it is an unending spiral opened to anything. Tension is very high!

Cecily will learn the hard way that willfulness is never a solution, on the contrary it can be extremely dangerous.

Margaret Blake created captivating characters. She has become an expert at mixing fiction with history, each time craftily balanced. This book is an action-packed plot full of twists and turns. What a wonderful book.