I came upon Hame quite by chance thanks to Vintage tweeting about it on St Andrew’s Day last year. The Scottish island setting and a literary trail in search of a mysterious poet really appealed to me but when I saw the release date of February 2017, I tweeted my frustration at not being able to read it that day and a very kind book fairy at Vintage made it available for me on NetGalley. Book fairies are the best.
Hame, n. Scottish form of ‘home’: a valued place regarded as a refuge or place of origin
In the wake of the breakdown of her relationship, Mhairi McPhail dismantles her life in New York and moves with her 9-year-old daughter, Agnes, to the remote Scottish island of Fascaray. Mhairi has been commissioned to write a biography of the late Bard of Fascaray, Grigor McWatt, a cantankerous poet with an international reputation.
But who was Grigor McWatt? Details of his past – his tough childhood and his war years as a commando – are elusive, and there is evidence of a mysterious love affair which Mhairi is determined to investigate. As she struggles to adapt to her new life, and put her own troubled past behind her, Mhairi begins to unearth the astonishing secret history of the poet regarded by many as the custodian of Fascaray’s – and Scotland’s – soul.
literary detective work
themes of identity and belonging to people and places – why are we drawn to some and repelled by others?
poet most famous for a popular song which irks him immensely, so much so that he hates to hear it sung in his presence and only tolerates this a couple of times in his lifetime
the transcribing of famous poems into Scots was a lot of fun for this reader to firstly recognise them and then read them aloud
set against the real historical backdrop of Scotland, it’s interesting to see fiction mesh with real events and people
beautiful hardback and probably better read in hard copy with the white space around the poems a break between the biographer’s work and the poet’s own memoirs
Hame by Annalena McAfee is published by Harvill Secker, a Vintage imprint. It is available in hardback and as an ebook and audiobook from Amazon UK, Audible UK, Foyles, Hive (supporting your local independent bookshop) and Waterstones. You can read an extract from the book here or listen to an audio sample on the Audible site here.
My very grateful thanks to the publisher for providing me with an early copy via NetGalley.