I have to say at the start that I've read and reviewed maybe a half-dozen H.V. Morton books, and I've yet to find one that's not well-written, interesting, and entertaining. But as with any author, some books are better than others. I started reading "In Search of Scotland" right after finishing Morton's wonderful "In Search of England," and I have to admit I found "...Scotland" something of a letdown.
I've been trying to decide why exactly that is, and I think it may simply be because "...England" was a diverse, you might say, book, with a wider variety of personalities, encounters, and generally interesting things to do and see. It may be, too, that Morton was more familiar with England and so could write about it more broadly and confidently. One of the things I found most surprising about "...Scotland," in fact, was Morton's discussion of how unknown most of Scotland -- particularly the Highlands -- still was to the majority of English people, even as late as the time Morton was writing (1929). Scotland was in many senses a foreign land, making "In Search of Scotland" Morton's first piece of "foreign" travel writing (all his previous books had been about England, and mostly about London).
While parts of "...Scotland" dragged for me, there were still many times when Morton's descriptive skill shined through, and the reader comes away with a strong sense of the role history plays (or played?) in the average Scot's understanding of himself and his place in the world. As with so much of Morton's writing, it would be fascinating to know how much of what he found still remains, eight or so decades later.
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Andrew S. Rogers (Cascadian)
Mostly, I'm a moderately prolific Amazon.com reviewer who's giving Lunch a try as another venue for my reviews.
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A book by H. V. Morton is more than a travel book: it is a sensitive interpretation of a country's people and their history. The success of his first book on England, established the popularity of something new and refreshing in this type of literature. Mr Morton's travels have gained him thousands of readers in all parts of the world. The author has frequently been requested to define the secret of writing a travel book. He always replies: 'There is no secret. You either enjoy yourself or you do not. If you do, say so; if you do not - say so!' This disarming sincerity is, perhaps, responsible for the charm and fascination of his books. The feel and smell of the countryside, also a sense of movement, find their way into these light-hearted wanderings, and, combined with humour, acute observation, sympathy and an engaging curiosity, have justly gained for them a wide and increasing popularity. Contents Include: I Go in Search of Scotland - I Explore Edinburgh - I See the Castle of Roslin - Tells how I go on Through Rain to Lochleven - In Which I Climb into the Highlands - I Describe a Mystery of Aberdeen - Describes a Sincere Scottish Breakfast - In Which I Work East to West - I Go by Sea to Sky - How I Break the Sabbath - I Sail up the Clyde into Glasgow - In Which I Encounter Men Who Melt Steel