Monday, March 29, 2010

Death of A Witch

The pages of Breaking Dawn barely had time to settle back into their spine before I picked up MC Beaton's Death of a Witch. While Beaton is also no Diana Gabaldon, she is MC Beaton which is far preferable to being Stephenie Meyer. Beaton creates vivid Scottish landscapes in the desperate places of my mind, places that long for travel and the harsh yet beautiful scenery of Scotland. Sometimes I wonder if I read her novels for the story or the may be a toss up. Beyond that, I love her characters dearly as though I have known them all these years since I picked up my first Hamish MacBeth mystery.
They are simple reads, easily started and finished in a long, lazy day, but so entertaining. Beaton's work is the very definition of British cozy, making you want to curl up in a good, worn in chair with a blanket by a whispering fire with a cup of cocoa. I had put down her book at one point, when the sun finally shone through the dismal clouds of a windy Saturday morning and headed out to the garden. There wasn't much activity there but still the overwintered parsnips and onions and salsify give me a thrill of anticipatory excitement every time I spy their weed-like leaves hugging the cold, wet March soil. A few of the salsify had been sacrificed to discovery, I having not realized that some had made it through the winter and were beginning their growth anew.
As I sat on the chilled timbers of the bed, listening to the birds calling one another and claiming their territories the thoughts in my mind faded from the desire to go in and put on another layer, to the bonnie mountains and heathery moors of a Scotland I have never personally seen. My eyes scanned across our own land, with it's sharp hills and rocky creek beds, all crowded by tall skinny trees alive with chickadees and cardinals and a dozen other varieties of birds. In that moment I was overwhelmed with a love for our land. Our land. My family's land. And I began to wonder again about memories being passed down through genetics. Had my ancestors in Scotland had land of their own, land they loved? Had that love been passed down to me somehow, so that I crave going back? So that I would ignore my pride and my own selfish desires to preserve our family land here, the land where I had spent my years as a teenager and my children had spent most of their lives? During my time at Truman State I had been miserable, but when we came back to my parents', it was as though every atom in me settled back into the land and my soul whispered, "I have come home."
Perhaps that is why I love Beaton's Hamish MacBeth series so much, she takes me to Scotland with her. She brings to vivid color and even temperature, the nature of the Scottish landscape and it's people. I want to go back again and again. This is also what Gabaldon does, even more so, in her Outlander series and I never want to leave it.
Death of a Witch was good and engrossing and with some sadness I parted with dear old friends at the end, comforted in knowing that the shelf still holds another day of companionship not yet opened.

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