MUCKLE ANNIE by Jan Webster


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A straightforward bonnet-and-brogue period adventure, by the author of Glasgow-area family sagas (the last, Beggarman's Country, 1980). This stars a Glasgow lass of spunk and steely loyalty, who hies to the mid-19th-century outpost of British Columbia to search for the man she loves. Annie McIlvanney, educated but near starving with her widowed mother in the slums of Glasgow, meets Hector Mennock, a young man who, in spite of his tatters, is a laird's son running away from an evil deed--he'd killed, he says, a family enemy to protect his brothers. By a field of bluebells, Annie and Hector fall in love and take their vows of marriage alone, ""over running water."" But Hector will soon be over-the-water to the new land that's to be called British Columbia. When Annie gets there, as she swears she will, she's just to ask for him at his cousin's Last Chance Saloon in a frontier town. Annie does find passage, and it's during the long sea voyage that she meets nice doctor Alex, and with his help, rescues from death a newborn infant she names Aeneas. The baby's mother, dead in childbirth, had begged Annie to bring the infant to his father--Donald Arrochar of remote Salt Spring Island. That she does, in the meantime refusing Alex's advances as she will later refuse decent, stolid Donald's. On goes Annie to the Last Chance, where there's a note from Hector directing her to ""forget me."" So Annie moves in to partner the saloon with Hector's cousin--until she hears of a wildman called ""the Highlander."" And she knows. There'll be a paradisiacal idyll after Hector winds down, then tragedy when Hector's plucked off by Indians. Alone again, Annie becomes a success at business and journalism--but not in rescuing doctor Alex from misery and drink. At the close, there'll be a return to Salt Spring and the last appearance of Hector. Neat, earnest, and a heroine as familiar as all those saloon swinging doors. And as good-hearted as the best who might pass through them.

Pub Date: Jan. 27th, 1985
Publisher: St. Martin's