Mary Guthrie, a student of English at Edinburgh University becomes fascinated by the fantastical 17th century writer, Sir Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty and sets out to write a thesis on him. She pursues her research in his ancestral home, Cromarty House, now a crumbling ruin. There under the current laird, Sir James she is drawn into an increasingly Gothic exploration of the history of the eccentric Urquharts and the maze of tunnels beneath the House.
The Catholic priest of her parish, Ebenezer Krook, to whom she loses her virginity, is a distant and illegitimate descendant of Urquhart. He renounces his calling and goes to Edinburgh, where he is taken on by an idiosyncratic bookseller. Subconsciously he is searching for his father, who disappeared in the Spanish Civil War, leaving him with little more than a book and the memory of a boat trip to the Corryvreckan whirlpool, which allows for a cameo appearance by George Orwell.
Jean-Pierre Ohl’s The Lairds of Cromarty published by Dedalus captures the charm and atmosphere of Edinburgh and rural Scotland. Like Ohl’s first novel, Mr Dick or The Tenth Book, this book will appeal to readers who like clever and unusual mysteries, where past and present, fact and fiction are ingeniously merged together.
Jean-Pierre Ohl is a bookseller in Talence near Bordeaux.
Talk in French and English
The book will be available to buy on arrival at the event.