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PUBLICATION DATE: May 11, 2023
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Music in the Dark
By (author) Sally Magnusson
Jamesina Ross is long finished with men. But one night a stranger seeking lodgings knocks on the door of her tenement flat. He doesn’t recognise her, but she remembers him at once. Not that she plans to mention it. She has no intention of trusting anyone enough to let herself be vulnerable again.
A lifetime ago Jamesina Ross was bent on becoming a writer. She had a facility with words. She made up songs about the Highland glen where she lived and the kin who had worked that land for generations. When her community was threatened with eviction, she gave voice to that too. The women stood together, defiant and determined, but Jamesina’s music was no match for one of the most brutal confrontations of the Highland Clearances.
Jamesina has borne the disfigurements of that day ever since, on her face and inside her head. It marked the end of a life of promise and the beginning of a very different one. Her lodger thinks that if she would only dare to open the past, she might have the chance of a future.
A beautiful exploration of unlooked-for love in later life, its contrariness and its awkward, surprising joys, this is a story about resilience, memory, resurrection – and those parts of who we are that nobody can take away.
Reviews of Music in the Dark
Music in the Dark is a beautifully-written piece of work, achieved with immense skill. The portrayal of Jamesina Ross as she is shattered and put back together by the light-touch constancy of Niall Munro is perfectly balanced. The minute focus on these two individuals tells a huge story of the C19th Highlands, Glasgow and North America that readers will find deeply affecting — Shona MacLean
An engrossing, beautifully written novel about the Highland Clearances and the long-term physical, emotional and psychological damage done to those who were forced from their homes and homeland. Like all good historical fiction, it both illuminates the past and speaks eloquently to the present — James Robertson, author of The Testament of Gideon Mack
A wonderful and moving story, beautifully told . . . an episode of history brought vividly to life — Clare Chambers, author of Small Pleasures
I absolutely loved this book. An important and brutal historical event – but also a tender and unusual love story. It gave me writer envy — Kirsty Logan, author of The Gracekeepers
Truer to the reality of clearance and what came after than many ostensibly factual accounts of those events — James Hunter, author of Set Adrift Upon the World: The Sutherland Clearances