An ill-matched American couple heads off to Scotland on a futile quest for the Loch Ness monster, in an atmospheric, bravely affecting debut.
Absent-minded Michigan marine biology professor Perry Miggs and his listless, younger, stay-at-home wife, Perdita, have packed up for a six-month stay in St. Andrews on what is supposed to be Royal Geographical Society-sponsored research into the elusive Loch Ness creature. Yet there is something amiss in the couple’s anxious expectations. Perdita, who has heart problems, has been yearning to return to Scotland since she came as a student 17 years before, while Perry longs for a second chance to prove himself since he was rejected on an earlier Loch Ness expedition. Once they arrive, they secure lodgings at Iubhar with two sexagenarian sisters (whose incidental battles over the same unworthy man serve as the leitmotif here) and rent a boat piloted by rugged native Andrew Macgruer, who happens to be the heartthrob of Perdita’s long-ago first visit. A divorced poet who prefers to live alone in a cottage in the woods, Andrew is a tortured soul who has been pining for Perdita’s lost love all these years. He has traumatically seen his one true friend, medieval studies professor David Carlisle, die in his arms from a heart attack after glimpsing the Loch Ness monster. Despite her love for her husband, whose muddling ways could never make her happy, Perdita finds herself naturally receptive to Andrew’s attractions. She even seems to have her husband’s tacit approval in the renewed affair, as Perry begins to disappear at the lake for extended periods and indulge in other bizarre behavior. In this demented romance, everything ultimately and predictably works out—except for the slight detail of Perdita’s health. The quirky Miggs marriage redeems the story from mawkishness.
A strange, balmy tale of folks just off their rockers.