‘What but whisky will take the ache out of lovin’, the fire out of a fever an’ the meanness out of a miser?’ challenges Tearlaich when ‘Miss Peckwitt’ teases him about his reverence for the ‘water of life’. Of course she cannot tell him.
Here in this seventh book about the Hebridean village of Bruach and its inhabitants Lillian Beckwith again assembles a galaxy of characters. Some, like Erchy and Morag, the benignly philandering Hector and the artlessly indelicate Tearlaich, are already well known to her readers, but now we meet Willy, the fisherman with his sometimes strange, sometimes bawdy stories of life at sea and in port. We meet the tinkers and we hear how the devout Shamus’s determination not to allow the Bruach Sabbath to be profaned led to a small mystery which ‘Miss Peckwitt’ is unlikely every to be able to solve.
But as well as human ‘characters’ in this book we are introduced to some of the animals and birds she encountered or nursed (or fled form) during her crofting life, among them Bonny, her cow; Crumley, the highland bull, the ‘Infernal Gulliver’ and most importantly Rowan, the sheepdog puppy which she resolutely annexed from a neighbour.