We Fought For Ardnish
By Angus Macdonald £8.99 BIRLINN
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.
Being in love amid a war has a pay” big price to