Saturday, September 25, 2010

Book Review: "Corrag"

The 1692 Glencoe Massacre may not seem like a particularly good candidate for fictionalization, but Susan Fletcher tries her hand at it in Corrag (W.W. Norton, forthcoming). The eponymous narrator, daughter and granddaughter of women executed as witches, flees to the Scottish highlands and settles in the territory of the MacDonald clan, only to find herself imprisoned and facing death for successfully alerting the highlanders to the coming massacre.

Fletcher's book takes the form of Corrag's stream of consciousness narrative as told to Charles Leslie, an Irish Jacobite trying to find proof that the killings were ordered by King William III. Corrag slowly tells him the story he's after, but only in the course of recounting her life's story at her own deliberate pace. Leslie's letters to his wife (written following each day's conversation with Corrag) recap the day's revelations, and reveal Leslie's growing fascination with and respect for the young woman on the other side of the bars.

While there were sections of the book that I wished would move a little bit faster, on the whole I enjoyed the way Fletcher kept the story going (although I rather think Leslie might not have been nearly as patient with Corrag as she makes him, given that time was rather of the essence). All in all, this was a good read.

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