Why did I love this book?
Known best for his Waverly novels as well as Ivanhoe and Rob Roy, Sir Walter wrote many of the greatest short tales ever told. “The Highland Widow” is perhaps the greatest short tale ever. A subdued Scotsman living in a foreign London (at that time) and the foremost writer of his time he railed against our English overlords whilst pragmatically trying to maintain the status quo. (The letters of Malachi Malagrowther are a good example, marvellous reading, where he impugns the bank of England with great wit and Scalding rhetoric.)
He gave birth to many volumes of short tales, many under Pseudonyms (such as Malachi Malagrowther) as the English authorities were aware of his influence over the populace of London and his gift for romanticising the “Highland gentleman”. As a writer, he was unsurpassed in his time both in terms of sales by volume and in the quality of writing. I am both a writer and a Scotsman and so felt myself drawn to his chivalric and beautifully told tales all holding a touch of darkness and menace. Yet it is his sculpting of a tale and his words that enchant me. Had he been Austrian or Swedish it would not have mattered the writing is so delightful.