One of the very first "adult" series that I read in the days before I became a crime fiction addict was Lillian Beckwith's Hebridean books. I read them with a fascination almost akin to horror. Newly arrived in the city from a country town, I couldn't imagine why anyone would forsake the city to go to live in the outer islands of the Hebrides, where conditions seemed very primitive indeed. But on the other hand, I couldn't think of a better place to go. All that brusque weather and the sound of the sea, something I sorely missed in my move to the city.
From memory, the books were semi-autobiographical. Beckwith (1913- ) retired from her job as a public servant in London and rented a croft in the Hebrides. The title of her first book came from the letter she received in reply to her rental request: "the hills is lonely".
I didn't stay with the series beyond the first 6 books and had no idea that she continued to write. There are 14 in the following list and Fantastic Fiction lists a couple of omnibuses and 2 non-fiction books.
- The Hills Is Lonely (1959)
The Sea for Breakfast (1961)
The Loud Halo (1964)
Green Hand (1967)
Rope-in Case (1968)
Lightly Poached (1973)
The Spuddy (1974)
Beautiful Just (1975)
Bruach Blend (1978)
A Shine of Rainbows (1984)
A Proper Woman (1986)
The Small Party (1989)
An Island Apart (1992)
A Breath of Autumn (2002)
For me they were probably the forerunner of the cozy mysteries that I enjoy so much. They were quick easy reads, but so evocative of another place, another time, and another lifestyle.
I also dabbled in a similar village series by Miss Read. This author was also born in 1913, and also appears to be still alive. Her books were little pictures of English village life. The first of these, Village School, was published in 1955 and Miss Read continued to write about the fictitious villages of Fairacre and Thrush Green until her retirement in 1996. She lives in Berkshire, and in the 1998 New Year Honours list was awarded an MBE for her services to literature.
Thanks for this review. I haven't heard of Beckwith, but I've always wanted to visit the Hebrides. I'll have to track down the books. I have Miss Read's Thrush Green in my TBR pile. Perhaps I should get to it!
These look just lovely. They do remind me of Miss Read or the vet series. So restful.
Thank you for the review. And I didn't realize The Book Depository offered free delivery worldwide!
Post a Comment