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A breathtaking novel of passion and betrayal in seventeenth-century Scotland, and the portrait of an unforgettable heroine accused of witchcraft.

February 13, 1692. Thirty-eight members of the MacDonald clan are killed by soldiers who had previously enjoyed the clan's hospitality. Many more die from exposure. Forty miles south, the captivating Corrag is imprisoned for her involvement in the massacre. Accused of witchcraft and murder, she awaits her death. Lonesome, she tells her...

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A breathtaking novel of passion and betrayal in seventeenth-century Scotland, and the portrait of an unforgettable heroine accused of witchcraft.

February 13, 1692. Thirty-eight members of the MacDonald clan are killed by soldiers who had previously enjoyed the clan's hospitality. Many more die from exposure. Forty miles south, the captivating Corrag is imprisoned for her involvement in the massacre. Accused of witchcraft and murder, she awaits her death. Lonesome, she tells her story to Charles Leslie, an Irish propagandist who seeks information to condemn the Protestant King William, rumored to be involved in the massacre. Hers is a story of passion, courage, love, and the magic of the natural world. By telling it, she transforms both their lives.

As in her award-winning debut novel, Eve Green, Susan Fletcher shows that she is "a novelist with the soul of a poet" (Booklist). This deeply philosophical and dramatic book is about an epic historic event and the difference a single heart can make—how deep and lasting relationships can come from the most unlikely places.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The plight of an accused witch in late 17th-century Britain inspires confusion, then pity, in her only visitor in Fletcher's engrossing historical (after Oystercatchers). The only witness to the massacre of the MacDonald clan, Corrag sits in a village jail under a death sentence for her supposed supernatural involvement in the killings. Her interrogator is Charles Leslie, a Catholic loyalist traveling in disguise who is seeking information that may implicate the Protestant king William in the murders. Corrag leads Charles through her lonely childhood: her mother hanged for witchcraft, Corrag fled her hometown and lived hand to mouth before gaining the protection of the MacDonald clan. Corrag spins colorful if sometimes meandering tales of the unfriendly English countryside and the fleeting joy of having found, in the clan, a place where she can be accepted; Charles is harder to pin down, and he often functions as a placeholder until his abrupt shift into a pivotal role late in the book. Fletcher gives readers a strong plot, enough vivid passages to compensate for the occasional dull spot, and a triumphant heroine in Corrag, whose travails are truly epic. (Nov.)
Library Journal
In 1692, British soldiers massacred members of the MacDonald clan after having enjoyed the clan's hospitality in its Scottish stronghold of Glencoe. This brutal episode in British history is related to Irish pamphleteer Charles Leslie by Corrag, an accused witch and healer who tried to save members of the clan. British author Fletcher (Eve Green; Oystercatchers) allows Corrag to tell her story in exquisite poetic detail. As she awaits execution, Corrag tells Leslie about her life as the daughter and granddaughter of women executed for witchcraft. Her descriptions of the natural beauty of the Highlands are hypnotic, whether she is describing a stag on a hill or spiders entangled in her hair. And while members of the MacDonald clan are not heroes—given their marauding ways—they are not villains either, only men trying to survive. VERDICT This engrossing historical novel is essential for lovers of Scottish history. With its strong female protagonist, Fletcher's latest work casts a spell that will linger over readers long after they have finished the book. Corrag's story and that of the brutality suffered by women throughout the British Isles need to be retold in each generation.—Andrea Kempf, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, KS
Ron Charles
In 1692, the same year our sophisticated [Salem] ancestors were busy hanging each other on spectral evidence, a more violent, government-sanctioned massacre took place in Glencoe, in the Highlands of Scotland. This tragedy and its murky political context won't be familiar to many Americans, but Fletcher fills in the details gracefully as she tells the story of a strange young woman caught up in the bloodshed.
—The Washington Post
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393080001
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/15/2010
  • Pages: 366
  • Sales rank: 1,012,695
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Fletcher is the author of Eve Green, which won the Whitbread Award for First Novel, Oystercatchers, and The Highland Witch. She lives in the United Kingdom.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 15, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    History and humanity

    The background of the novel is the 1692 Glencoe Massacre in Scotland. The chief of clan MacDonald was a Jacobite, a supporter of James, as opposed to William of Orange. After numerous Jacobite uprisings, William offered a pardon to all clans who swore an oath to him before 1 January 1692. Knowing he could not win the fight, the Laird of the MacDonalds agreed to swear allegiance, but when he arrived at Fort William, on 31 December 1691, he was informed by a Colonel Hill that he, Hill, was not authorized to accept the oath. Colonel Hill assured the clan leader that his people would not suffer for a late oath, and he provided a letter stating that the clan had arrived within the proscribed time to swear allegiance. The laird then set out for Inveraray, where he needed to go to swear the oath, arriving three days later he was forced to wait another three days for the Sheriff of Argyll, to whom he then swore allegiance. Despite Colonel Hill's assurances, the clan would pay dearly for his tardiness.

    Corrag, the central character in the novel, is a woman accused of both witchcraft and treason, as she had a vision and tried to warn the MacDonald clan members, who were allowing her to live on their land, that the British soldiers whom they had been hosting as guests for two weeks were planning a massacre.

    The novel gives a great deal of background with regards to the history of the Glencoe Massacre, but that is not the focus of the book. Chapters alternate between Corrag's voice as she tells her story to Charles Leslie, an Irish propagandist supporter of the Jacobites, and the voice of Charles as he writes letters to his wife regarding his experiences documenting Corrag's story. In the beginning, Charles views Corrag as a witch and agrees that she should burn at the stake, but as he spends time with her, she changes not only his mind but the very way he views the world around him. Author Fletcher takes on a very challenging task in her choice to tell the story through two person's viewpoints, but she pulls it off to perfection.

    In a few places the story seems to bog down a bit, but there is a constant thread of tension as the reader begins to question whether Charles Leslie's growing sympathy for Corrag will result in his somehow aiding her in getting released from captivity. There is also a strong element of passion woven into the story. Corrag is in love with the second, married, son of the Laird of the Clan MacDonald, and readers will be carried along in their desire to see how that aspect of the story resolves. Evident too, is the powerful love of Charles Leslie for his bride, Jane, which shines through in his letters to her.

    Susan Fletcher has an unparalleled gift for descriptive prose and uses it to create in Corrag a character for whom the reader feels great empathy. Like Charles, the reader can not fail but come away wanting to embrace the natural world, to live simply, more deliberately-Corrag made me think of Henry David Theroux. She notices every detail of life and the lives around her and embraces them for their uniqueness and beauty. I came away from this book more observant-changed, and I do not think any reader could help but do likewise. It is ironic that a book whose theme is a massacre could leave one feeling so alive.

    If you love Scottish history or descriptive prose, this is a great book for you.

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  • Posted January 6, 2011


    Corrag was not at all what I expected it to be. Told from Corrag's point of view, it gave a very interesting perspective on her life at the time, but a rambling one. Her stream of conciousness way of speaking sometimes drove me to skim several pages. I understand that it was meant to be her way of seeing the world, and expressing how she felt, but I feel that it could have been cut in half. Some details were repeated so many times that I sighed with boredom. However, despite her ramblings, there was a great story underneath it all. I would have enjoyed this book more if it were written in a less rambling manner, and some quotation marks would have helped too.

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    Posted January 4, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2010

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