2010 Historical Fiction

Corrag – Susan Fletcher

I received a copy of Corrag from the publishers a long time ago, but I wasn’t convinced I’d enjoy it. Words on the back cover like “haunting”, “lyrical” and “dreamlike” put me off, but continual raving from The Book Whisperer persuaded me to give it a try. Unfortunately my instincts were correct and this book wasn’t for me.

Corrag is set in Scotland in 1692. The book is narrated by Corrag, a 16-year-old girl who is imprisoned on suspicion of being a witch. Accused of involvement with the Glencoe Massacre, an event in which 38 members of the MacDonald clan were killed by soldiers, she is awaits her execution.

My main problem with this book was that nothing happened. Corrag is stuck in a prison cell telling her story to an Irish minister, but the snippets of action were very few and far between. The majority of the book revolved around tiny details about her life in prison. It was beautifully written, but after pages of these descriptions I became bored.

It snows. From the little window, I can see it snows. It’s been months, I think, of snowing – of bluish ice, and cold. Months of clouded breath. I blow, and see my breath roll out and I think look. That is my life. I am still living.

The repetition also wore me down. I can see that this is an accurate reflection of her experience, but as a reader I’m afraid I need to be entertained a bit more.

The Glencoe Massacre is a fascinating subject and so there were enough paragraphs of interest to keep me reading, but in many ways I wish this hadn’t been the case. I found myself ploughing through these “lyrical descriptions” waiting for a shred of plot to reveal itself. I reached the end wishing that I had given up early on. The only benefit of finishing was that I got to read the afterword, which was the most interesting section of the book.

Recommended to those who do not need a plot and are capable of immersing themselves in beautiful descriptions.

I’m in the minority. Everyone else seems to love it:

It is truly one of the most beautiful and lyrical books I have ever read. The Book Whisperer

Fletcher’s use of language is also impressive. Shelf Love

….it was a visual experience, a kind of conjuring. Eve’s Alexandria

27 replies on “Corrag – Susan Fletcher”

Iris, That is great news 🙂 I think that you’d enjoy it. You know how much I like my complicated fast paced plots, so I’m pleased I’ve been able to get the nature of this book across to you and made you want to read it. Enjoy 🙂

Oh no, you’ve broken my heart Jackie! (;)) This book is my favourite of 2010 so far (and my Mum’s favourite of all time – she’s 65 and reads a LOT!). I do understand how it wouldn’t be for everyone though, and life wouldn’t be very interesting if we all loved the same thing.

Sandy, I think that if it had been written from the perspective of the MacDonald clan then I’d have loved it. There just wasn’t enough to entertain me in a prison cell 🙁

I know tons have loved this one but nothing about it really appeals to me. I’d probably like the writing, but the subject matter just does nothing for me! I doubt I’ll be picking this one up!

Judith, That is great news 🙂 I’m pleased that so many people can see it is just personal taste and there is nothing wrong with the book. I hope that you enjoy it as much as The Book Whisperer did!

I had the no-plot issue with Tapestry Of Love for a while, but unlike it seems in Corrag, there was a reason I found for it in the former. It makes you think though, because we often want realistic books but sometimes realistic can be boring. I think for that I’d have to give this one a miss.

I’m sorry you didn’t like this, but I’m not entirely surprised. I know you require more plot than I do and this just barely made it into the realm of enough plot for me 🙂 Mostly, I just found the language such a pleasure that it carried me along.

I read this earlier in the year. I liked it but … I was longing for historical background to the clans etc, and less lyrical wandering around not doing much. The words were a pleasure to read, but it dragged and didn’t have enough plot for me.

It’s too bad, because it sounds like this could be a fascinating book. I am always skeptical when a book is touted as being lyrical though–for some reason, I always equate that with being slow.

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