When the Heather Blooms

Written by Gwen Kirkwood
Review by Myfanwy Cook

This novel continues the Pringle family saga set within the farming community near Lockerbie in the Scottish Highlands. Every member of the clan has his or her part to play in this gentle romantic story. Although the novel starts with Victoria and Andrew Pringle taking centre stage, then Victoria discoveries that she has a nephew Peter, the son of her brother Mark, who died during the war. From that point onwards it is Peter who gradually becomes the main character along with Mimi, who suffered from polio as a child, and has been left with a physical disability and additional burden of an overprotective parent.

The charm of this novel lies in the detail lovingly included about life in a Scottish farming community in the 1950s, and early ’60s, from the work in the creamery’s checking and testing the milk to Mimi’s first experience of a ‘dance’. The detailed descriptions of the flowers and countryside with the changing seasons conjure up a real sense of place. This novel is easy to read, and the struggles of Peter and Mimi to create their own lives through hard work and determination capture one’s interest as a reader.

Reading Gwen Kirkwood’s novel, rather like drinking a mug of hot chocolate on a rainy, cold night, is both comforting and satisfying. It is also full to the brim with accurate detail, which gives you the impression of looking at a world that, although close in time, is now part of history.