THE NEW TENANTS by Margaret MacPherson


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In The Shinty Boys, most memorably if less accessibly in The Rough Road, Margaret MacPherson has written of Skye as a place to be born and bred, to belong to; here, personified by the Shearers from Glasgow, especially twelve-year-old Liz, is the island as a place to grow into. Dad has inherited the croft that Danny Ruadh expected to be left, and Danny's deviousness--flattering Dad to his face, cheating and ridiculing him behind his back--plus his increasingly obsessive search for a will naming him as the heir, constitutes the skeleton of the story, and tests Liz's new assertiveness. Wary and withdrawn at first, she finds an affinity with impulsive Hamish Macdonald; she is also the only one who sees through Danny, so that when Danny is about to trick Dad into selling undersized cattle at a loss, she and Hamish hide them, precipitating a crisis in the family. Also a crisis for Liz: is she responsible for the accident Dad has immediately after leaving her in fury? An unsentimental candor cancels out the melodrama, and although Donald has to be institutionalized for safety's sake, the Shearers have earned the croft by their own resilience--Liz milking the balky cow, Mum tempering her passion for cleanliness, Dad taking his setbacks in good spirit. A good go altogether, laced with generosity and a lively sense of the ridiculous.

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 1968
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World