We Fought For Ard­nish

By Angus Mac­don­ald £8.99 BIRLINN

The Scots Magazine - - Sound Of Scotland -

THOUGH Angus Mac­don­ald’s lat­est novel is a se­quel to his first – Ard­nish Was Home – this story could well be read alone. Mac­don­ald is a great sto­ry­teller and the pas­sion of his char­ac­ters surely mir­rors his own bound­less en­thu­si­asm for life.

Don­ald Angus Gil­lies, like his fa­ther and grand­fa­ther be­fore him, joins the Lo­vat Scouts and is sent to face the hor­rors of the Sec­ond World War in a re­mote area of the French Alps. He is a like­able fel­low, un­daunted de­spite hor­ren­dous chal­lenges and ex­treme ad­ver­sity. He finds him­self im­mersed in the kind of mis­ery faced by many sol­diers dur­ing this time, but on meet­ing Françoise, a young French­cana­dian Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Ex­ec­u­tive, a bond forms. Don­ald Angus is mes­merised by her, and long af­ter she has de­parted on a ter­ri­fy­ing solo mis­sion, is un­able to stop think­ing of her. Be­ing in love in such a sit­u­a­tion will be a big price to pay, es­pe­cially when he learns she is se­ri­ously in­jured.

Though the story sets a swift pace with nu­mer­ous har­row­ing in­ci­dents based on the re­al­i­ties of the pe­riod, the reader is kept well hefted to home as the nar­ra­tive drifts back to the tiny croft­ing and farm­ing com­mu­nity on the Ard­nish Penin­sula, in wild Lochaber. These are the things Don­ald Angus be­lieves are worth fight­ing for; the hills and glens, the way of life with its strong sense of High­land com­mu­nity, the true love of home.

How­ever it will be some time be­fore Don­ald Angus re­turns to his beloved Ard­nish, if ever, and the su­per­hu­man tests con­tinue.

The book is punc­tu­ated with poignant de­scrip­tions of peo­ple and places, and the author brings dif­fer­ent voices to the nar­ra­tive – de­spite be­ing ripped apart, the de­pic­tions of France and then Canada are vivid. How­ever, it is those of the West High­lands that truly bring the book alive.

We Fought For Ard­nish is not only a grip­ping and at times hor­ri­fy­ing ad­ven­ture, a ro­man­tic story set dur­ing a ter­ri­fy­ing war; it is also an im­por­tant piece of so­cial his­tory. But per­haps, above all, it is a tale of the im­por­tance of true love and de­ter­mi­na­tion.

Polly Pullar

Be­ing in love amid a war has a pay” big price to

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