I just realised that I posted my review of One Hundred Years of Solitude with an unfinished sentence in the middle. Oops! Note to self: get better at proofreading...
This is the second and final book that I read on my family holiday to Norfolk. Unfortunately, I didn't read half as many books as I intended (though perhaps my enormous TBR pile was a tad ambitious...), and this next book actually put me in a bit of a reading slump, though at the time I was actually enjoying it. I got this book years ago as a gift (I think from my mum) but never got round to reading it at the time. Since then I've read the author's more famous work, The 39 Steps, and loved it, so I thought I'd finally give this one a go too.
Classic, sporting adventure
Three bored men of high social standing hatch a plan to challenge three estates in the Scottish highlands to a battle of wits, each planning to try and poach from the estates' land without getting caught, all under the name of John Macnab.
Despite what I said in the intro about this book putting me into a reading slump, I actually quite enjoyed it. It had plenty of romance, action, and Scots slang to make for an interesting read.
I liked the characters, especially Janet, who I thought was particularly intriguing (but also fun!). I found the author's portrayal of a female character in this way a little unexpected, since she clearly had elegance and beauty but also felt at home in the countryside and was more than a match for the men when it came to defending her land and her family's honour against the would-be poachers. I guess I was pleasantly surprised by such a nuanced and favourably portrayed female character in a story that could have become a simplistic boys' adventure.
Another thing that was great about the book was its use of Scots words (along with helpful endnotes explaining what they meant) which seemed to fit so perfectly with the beautiful descriptions of the highland landscapes. The author's writing style was understated but effective, and his affection for Scotland was constantly shining through. (The only drawback with my edition was that it was missing its final few pages, so most of the endnotes were lost! Lucky my mum has a Scots-English dictionary...)
Though, as I've mentioned before, there were many things I enjoyed about this book, I never found myself particularly compelled to pick it up. I would get through a few pages and get distracted or lose interest and go and do something else. Although I can't pinpoint what exactly about this book wasn't doing it for me, I can't deny that the special something that normally pushes me to keep reading just wasn't quite there this time.
All that said, I did really enjoy the story and thought it was a fun idea. I also found the characters interesting and loved the setting. However, it did feel, to me, as though it was lacking a certain something. Definitely not as good as The 39 Steps, but still worth a read.
What did you think of John Macnab? Do you agree with my review? What do you do to escape the dreaded reading slump??? Let me know in the comments.