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  • Writer's pictureGareth Williams

Thinking of Christmas

If you are wondering about books to buy a loved one for Christmas, you could do worse than follow the advice of the West Highland Free Press!

I fear the text isn't very clear, but I have copied the text below the image. To see what they have to say about Needing Napoleon, find the section highlighted in bold type below.

Give the gift of reading this Christmas It’s the time of year again when everyone loves the gift of a book. Easy to buy, easy to wrap and easy to treasure and enjoy, they are the perfect Christmas present. So this year don’t give only any old books. Give some of the books written and published locally by our superb assembly of northern authors and Highland enterprises.

Frank Rennie has followed his award winning story of Galson in Lewis with the definitive volume on one of the most famous residents of our croftlands. ‘The Corncrake: An Ecology of an Enigma’ is a characteristically scientific but personal account of the challenging times which now face the little bird that kept us awake at night.

Tom Morton’s ‘It Tolls For Thee: A Guide to Celebrating and Reclaiming the End of Life’ falls into the category of most unlikely Christmas book from the most unlikely author. The multi-talented Tom tells of how his own brush with the reaper led him to the appreciation that “our love for the lost remains, even as we move on and age and grow. This is what funerals are about. They’re about love.”

Ghillie Basan is an established food writer who lives in the Cairngorms. A life of worldwide travel has been reflected in her numerous previous cookbooks. Back home, in ‘A Taste of the Highlands’ she offers us the familiar story of being unable 30 years ago to buy an aubergine, feta cheese or olive oil. That has changed, of course, but so has people’s diet. Locals and visitors alike now expect to eat the food of the land. In the Highlands that means a reversion to shellfish and venison - albeit prepared occasionally with olive oil, aubergine and even feta cheese.

Top tip: pair ‘A Taste of the Highlands’ with Coinneach MacLeod, the Hebridean Baker’s latest for the gourmet in your family.

For gripping fiction you should look to Skye author Gareth Williams’ ‘Needing Napoleon’, an original feat of imagination and an irresistible adventure that spirits the reader from present-day Paris to the battle of Waterloo and beyond.

In similar territory, Angus MacDonald’s epic Ardnish series offers compulsive reading throughout the winter and into the spring.

The ‘Eliza Ross Collection of Original Highland Airs collected in Raasay in 1812’ is a volume for the lovers of both music and island history. Elizabeth Jane Ross was born in India in 1789. Both of Elizabeth’s parents died in India. The orphaned child was sent back to Britain, where she was adopted by her uncle, James MacLeod of Raasay. As a young woman in her teens and early 20s Eliza began to transcribe the songs, fiddle tunes, bagpipe and piano music which formed the soundtrack of her life in Raasay, from the moment she was woken by pipes to the hour that she drifted to sleep in Raasay House with the adults still singing and playing below. That music is now available to us all.

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