Saturday, April 07, 2007

My Heart's in the Lowlands

Reading My Heart's in the Lowlands by Liz Curtis Higgs is like taking a trip with a friend. Liz literally acts as our escort as we discover areas of Scotland that are not quite as well-traveled as the Scottish Highlands. This book is a tribute of love from Liz Curtis Higgs to Scotland, the place that inspired her series of novels set in Galloway, which includes Thorn in My Heart. If you've read and enjoyed any of these books, she identifies towns and scenery with a few selected descriptive quotes from the novels. If, like me, you haven't read the novels, the quotes do not seem obtrusive at all.

Don't let the familiar chatty tone of the book annoy you. Enjoy it. Allow yourself to experience the fun of a girls' getaway, including visits to graveyards, churches, castles, and lots of pots of tea. In fact, I often had to brew myself a strong cup while reading along, because she made it sound so looovely. Here's her account of one visit to a used bookstore (yes, I could travel with this woman):
While you scratch Maisie behind the ears, I select two dozen must-have titles from Benny's extensive collection. . . .Shopping completed and tea mugs drained, we tally up our purchases and hand over the necessary cash. I'll try not to envy your eight-pound total; as usual mine is significantly higher, though I consider these treasures a worthy investment (page 122).
As I neared the end of the book, I began to feel just as I do as I'm nearing the end of a trip--expectant but sad. She closes on a hopeful note, reminding us that
Unlike fiction, where both story and protagonist have defined arcs that start and finish and soar in the middle, real life simply continues. Little rises and fall occur, the occasional dramatic shift, but otherwise each day is a steady unfolding of the lives we're called to live (page 246).
And that's one of the things that I enjoy about travel. It's a little rise in the midst of routine, giving a bit of color to the backgrounds of my life. I can take pictures and purchase souvenirs, but what is really amazing about travel is the new perspective that it helps me to gain--the widening of my view of the world. And, if I'm lucky, like in the case of Liz Curtis Higgs' travels to Scotland, a swell in my heart as well.

Title: My Heart's in the Lowlands
Author: Liz Curtis Higgs
Published by: Waterbrook Press
Date: February 2007
Pages: 252
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
Recommendations: This armchair travel book would be a wonderful read for anyone who has been to Scotland or who hopes to visit one day or who enjoys Scottish history or culture. There are additional travel recommendations on her website (and wonderful photos, which the book lacks). She is indeed an expert. She has visited nine times and owns over 800 books on Scotland.

This review is linked to Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books.


Lauren S. said...

I am reading Thorn in My Heart right now. I will have to check this out as well. Thanks!

Kathleen aka Coffee Mom said...

I've always been interested in the Scottish Lowlands, my family history is in Dundee. Liz sounds like she'd be a great travel guide. I will look for this book.

Katrina said...

This is on my spring reading list, as you know, and now I'm looking forward to it even more. Sounds great. Thanks for the review!

Susanne said...

Hmmm, maybe my daughter would like this. She's just obsessed with Scotland and Ireland. Thanks for the review.