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Consider the Lilies
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
In Scotland in the 1790s to the 1850s the Highland Clearances evicted or burned out thousands of poor-born crofters and small landholders by force, in much the same way that, in the same century, rich landowners used their control of state processes to appropriate public land for their private benefit in England through the Enclosures Act. Iain Crichton Smith's plain little novel tells the story of one old woman who is threatened with eviction and how she finds Church and State locked in unholy union over this terrible practice.

As well as humanising the whole subject of forced eviction in the Highlands, Crichton Smith's novel introduces a freethinking neighbour who helps Mrs Scott and gives her another perspective on her god-bothered life, as well as describing her surroundings, the innocent pleasures and pains of Highland life. 144 pages, direct, scouring in its honesty, taut and poetic in feeling, this is a profound and beautiful piece of work.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 23 August 2009
A simple, easy read but full of history and passion. Anyone interested in Scotlands history will marvel at the bravery of those who lived off the land and saw their worlds turned upside down.
If you liked this book then a great follow up would be Neil Gunn's classic "The Silver Darlings"The Silver Darlings (FF Classics).
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 28 November 2014
Iain Crichton Smith's novels are not currently fashionable and it would be probably fair to say that outside of the classroom they are now seldom read. That state is, I suspect, likely to continue, though if there is one of his novels that may sustain at least a minority interest it is this one.

The setting in Sutherland, at the time of the Highland clearances, during which poor crofters and others were uprooted from their homes to accommodate sheep grazing, is here subordinated to the presentation of Mary Scott, whose character is developed sympathetically and sensitively.

Now in old age, certainly given the time of the clearances in the first half of the 19th century in the main, Mrs Scott is, nonetheless, the one character of any complexity, and the only one to significantly develop; both morally and spiritually it may be argued. From her harsh upbringing, care of an increasingly dominant and demanding mother, an unsuitable marriage and the emigration of her only child who keeps little contact with her, it is scarcely surprising that she seeks refuge in narrow rigidity, most particularly via devotion to the harsh teachings of the church and its hypocritical minister. In desperation at the fate that awaits her she begins to lose any firmness of grip on reality and it is only after all but replicating the near fate of her mother, that she finds regeneration via her neighbour, the stone mason/politico Donald Macleod and his family.

Unfortunately, the other key characters lack anything but a representative function, enlarging Crichton Smith's perspective on historical events, instrumental in Mary Scott's growth, but lacking any complexity themselves. That goes for Macleod and the minister, Patrick Sellar, Annie the Linnet and Big Betty.

Almost against all the arguments and obvious limitations, this book still exercises quite a powerful hold - at least on this reader. It does have a quiet dignity and behind all lies decent, humane values. It is by no means a great novel, and it may be significant that it is rated least highly by young students of the book, but it would be sad, I think, were it to disappear into oblivion.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 30 May 2000
A brilliant book that draws together all of the main themes evident in Crichton Smiths poetry. The death of the traditional way of life is particularly strong as is the desire of those people in the village to adhere to the ways of the 'past' as those younger members are drawn away to seek what the 'future' and shun the past. A book easily enjoyed by all and especially by those who enjoy Crichton Smiths way of writing.
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on 17 November 2014
Thanks. Fast safe receipt. Excellent item.
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on 15 December 2014
Very Real
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0 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 15 September 2013
Had to buy the book for a school assignment - never actually managed to get all the way through it. Simply not engaging in the slightest.
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0 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 4 March 2008
I have recently read this book due to a requirement for my English course, and I approached it with an open mind... hoping to be engrossed in the story.

However from the very beginning I found it a difficult read.

I found that the main character was not easy to sympathise with - even with her troubled circumstances, and I did not care much for her facing eviction.

I also found the writers use of description highly overused, he would write about something and then stray off onto another random thing...
There were two chapters providing descriptions of curtains! Curtains!

And Chapter 7 is just one line...

Needless to say I am disappointed with this book and believe that when my exam comes up I am going to find it very difficult.
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