Far Horizons

Written by Katharine Swartz
Review by Fiona Lowe

Early 1800s: the tale of Harriet Crombie and Allan MacDougall begins as Allan declares his love for Harriet on the eve of departing for Nova Scotia. Sadly Harriet must remain on the Isle of Mull. The lovers face a long spell apart whilst Allan establishes himself in the New World. Harriet and Allan face doubt, difficulty and much pain in the time ahead. Margaret and Robert MacDougall, Allan’s sister and brother, remain on Mull living with Harriet at Achlic Farm. With Margaret desperate to learn, her wishes are soon in jeopardy. Meanwhile in the New World, Allan MacDougall finds himself increasingly torn between duty to his family, especially his father, and the understandable desire to be his own man. On Mull, Harriet faces up to the fear of desperate poverty, whilst struggling to keep her family together. At times Katherine Swartz’s writing aches with profound bittersweetness, though personally I found Margaret’s tale a distracting annoyance and the canvas of this novel sometimes so broad that not enough attention is given to the two, more interesting, main characters. A pity, for this separation of lovers and families must have been played out many times during the Highland Clearances. An enjoyable read.