Mine is the Night

Written by Liz Curtis Higgs
Review by Cecelia Holland

After a failed Jacobite rising, Marjory and Elizabeth Kerr, their husbands dead in battle, are thrown out of their home and sent wandering. Bess Kerr is quick-witted, good with a needle; when they find lodging in Selkirk, she takes up dress-making. Both she and Marjory, her mother-in-law, are used to a much finer lifestyle, but they cope bravely with their poverty, and soon enough, new possibilities open to each of them. But their Jacobite allegiances hover over them, and old problems keep on coming back, and each one falls in love with a man who seems out of reach.

This quiet narrative, drenched in faith and plentiful Scots dialect, gradually won me over by its sheer presence. The plot is standard issue romance, gears grinding in the background, but the portrayal of ordinary life has a sure, lived feel, and many of the characters are very appealing. There’s a lot of piety and quoting of psalms; this is a sort of bonnet fiction, only with a Scottish burr, but you feel as well the entwined and narrow ways of an old town, the eager gossip and the uncomfortable intimacies.