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She had had too many vigils in her life for her to stop now
on 18 March 2010
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.