The News

A Capital Union coming soon

With Scots preparing to vote in the September 2014 referendum, A Capital Union, the new novel by Victoria Hendry published on August 29, takes a step back into the recent Scottish past in order to shine a light on the universal issues of loyalty, identity and independence.

Set in World War II Edinburgh, it tells the story of Ayrshire lass Agnes Thorne, who’s just seventeen, newly wed, and gamely trying to be a dutiful wife and fine Edinburgh lady. However, aloof city folk are testing her spirit – as is her husband Jeff, who is a committed member of the recently founded SNP and refusing to enlist in the British Army. Agnes thinks Jeff should stop fretting about Westminster and get on with fighting Hitler. Ultimately, she will have to choose: between loyalty to her husband, or finding her own way.

Author Victoria Hendry says, “A Capital Union looks at what we owe our partners in union, regardless of whether it’s marital union, or political union. It also asks what can be done when a union feels or becomes unequal. This is an especially difficult question for the weaker party in any union.

“Anyone with an interest in the Scottish independence movement in general will like the book: it’s set in the 1940s, yet many of the issues it raises still resonate today.

“I also hope people will enjoy reading a book that explores these big themes told from a female perspective, which is all too often missing from accounts of history.”

Agnes Thorne certainly is a vivacious, grounded and disarming narrator in this highly accomplished debut novel, which has an exceptional paciness and some genuinely big surprises in store for the reader. 

Diary Date:

A Capital Union is being launched on August 28 at a special event with author Victoria Hendry at Blackwell’s South Bridge store in Edinburgh. More details coming soon.


Busy times for Saraband authors

It's an exciting spring and summer for two of our authors - J. David Simons and Mandy Haggith - as they are both making special appearances at a host of events around the country.

J. David Simons, whose new novel An Exquisite Sense of What Is Beautiful has been garnering some great reviews and selling like hot cakes on Kindle, appeared at Waterstones' prestigious Gower Street shop in London. It is Europe's largest academic bookstore and situated in the heart of Bloomsbury, where some sections of An Exquisite Sense... are also set. At the other end of the country, David also gave a reading last week at Waterstones in Dundee. Poet, author and playwright Chris Dolan was on hand to introduce David and lead a Q&A session.

David is also busy with a series of events taking place at libraries in Scotland. At the beginning of May, he appeared at both Drumchapel and Knightswood libraries in Glasgow, and he is due to appear at Kirkcaldy library in June. Come September, he will be taking part in the Nairn Book and Arts Festival.

Meanwhile, Mandy Haggith is also busy promoting her new novel Bear Witness, which launched in April at a specially arranged Highland eco-debate that attracted the attentions of the BBC, STV and the Press & Journal. Last week Mandy also gave a reading from Bear Witness at Waterstones in Sauciehall Street, Glasgow, and on Friday 31st May she will be at the Bookmark in Grantown-on-Spey. In July, Mandy has the honour of being the Poet-in-Residence at Edinburgh Royal Botanical Gardens. Mandy will spend the month celebrating the Gaelic Tree Alphabet at the Gardens.


Successful Earth Day launch for Bear Witness

The new novel by Mandy Haggith - Bear Witness, out on 25 April – received a great reception when it was launched on Monday at a special Earth Day celebration of Scotland’s wildlife. The day of events, which took place in the spectacular setting of Glencanisp Lodge, near Lochinver, included a guided walk to the Inchnadamph Bone Caves, where bear bones have been found, confirming the animal's presence in the wild in Scotland in relatively recent times. Mandy is pictured here at the mouth of Bear Cave.

The day culminated in a debate by conservation experts about the reintroduction of large predators to Scotland, which is a major theme of Bear Witness. The notion of reintroducing animals such as bears, wolves and lynxes excites strong views on both sides of the argument, so the debate and Bear Witness launch attracted lots of media attention. Mandy was interviewed on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio show and the story appeared on the BBC website. It was also front-page news on The Press and Journal, and an article appeared in the Oban Times. A report on the debate and interview with Mandy was published on a second BBC article.

The debate, which took place after Mandy’s launch of Bear Witness, saw, the Scottish Wildlife Trust discussing the reintroduction of beavers to Scotland, and Roy Dennis shared his experiences of reintroducing ospreys, sea eagles and red kites, all persecuted to extinction in Scotland. Jim Crumley, author of The Last Wolf, talked about the possible return of wolves, and Mandy encouraged people to believe in the possibility of a future with bears – in reality, not just in fiction.

Mandy said: ‘The debate went really well - it was completely packed out and we had a thorough exploration of the potential for bringing back bears, wolves and lynx to Scotland. The event began in the morning with a children's event in the woods, with all the local primary school children learning about the animals that live in the woods now and those that lived here in the past. They enjoyed having the chance to think about whether they want lynx, bears and wolves back in the future - all but one (who has pet ducks!) want bears, lynx and wolves back.

‘We had a cracking debate in the evening. It was great to see so many people from the community discussing how this land could be inhabited again by the full quotient of animals that are native to it. For so long it belonged to a rich individual but it is now community-owned land, and the debate showed that there is a real appetite for a new vision for the landscape, and enthusiasm for sharing it with other animals like bears, lynx and wolves.’ 

The spectacular scenery alongside Loch Assynt, a remote, wooded area where bears, wolves and lynx once roamed.

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