When Two Ravens Press (an established favourite on Lizzy’s Literary Life, even though they’ve only been in existence for 18 months) publish a three-novella-novel in the midst of my Short Story September and the author makes an appearance at my local library, you can prophesy the serious TBR queue-jumping that will inevitably ensue.  And so it came to pass …

Jonathan Falla’s Glenfarron is a fictional Scottish highland rural community whose history from the 1940’s is explored in three novellas spaced in three separate timeframes; the 1940’s, the 1970’s and the 2000’s.  They share a common theme (hence my three-novella-novel label), namely the change in community dynamic as a result of the infiltration of outsiders.   The styles of each are dramatically diverse: the first, an historical romance exploring the experience of Polish war wounded recuperating in Scotland; the second, a hauntingly mysterious and psychological tale in the mode of Henry James (is-it-a-ghost-or-is-it-something-else) The Turn of the Screw; the third, a comic tale with an ironic edge.

Taymouth Castle, Kenmore
So, if it’s diversity you want, here’s the book for you.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and that was before I heard the author’s inside track.  Not only is it an amalgam of styles, entertainingly and stylishly executed, but it is an amalgam of various places in Scotland, rolled up and blended together to form  Glenfarron.  At the author’s event I promised not to reveal all, so I’ll content myself with just a couple of pictures of places that appear in various episodes.  And don’t forget the camera obscura on the  cover.
The Purgatory Burn
The Purgatory Burn

The novellas are held together not only by their thematic links but by the cast of indigenous characters.  Charlie Dulce is a young bemused boy in the 1940’s, a newly-qualified doctor, completely out of his depth in the 1970’s, and a middle-aged, henpecked husband in the 2000’s. The tragic events of the 1940’s continue to echo for him, as they do in even more saddening ways for other characters.  Objects too make repeated guest appearances, in particular, the bed of the bachelor Charlie Baird, a fantastic pink confection of a bed, obviously symbolic, but of what?  Falla, wicked man, refused to explain this, thus guaranteeing a reread.  Not that I begrudge it – Glenfarron is so full of ideas, so rich in its inventiveness, that I anticipate even more enjoyment second time around.