(Maureen) Mollie Hunter (McIlwraith) The Times Literary Supplement - Essay

The Times Literary Supplement

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Mollie Hunter, in The Ghosts of Glencoe, gives fictional treatment to an historical event, and one of which every detail has already been closely studied. It would be exceedingly difficult to write an imaginative novel about Glencoe, and Miss Hunter has been content to let the tragedy speak for itself. She has chosen the device of an eye-witness who is not too strong a character to get in the way of the action, although in her concern to rescue him from the effects of his involvement with the Macdonalds she perhaps diverts too much attention from the central tragedy. This is no story for dispassionate treatment, and Miss Hunter rightly declares herself for the Macdonalds without reservation. Her portraits of the principals on both sides are brilliantly done. She is especially successful with the enigmatic Glenlyon who, by a combination of choice and fate, bears direct responsibility for the massacre. In a finely conceived epilogue the spokesman of the story meets Glenlyon behind the lines in Flanders and finds him seeking escape from the ghosts of his victims in the wine-dregs. This fine story deserves more readers than its austere format is likely to attract.

"Casualties of Change," in The Times Literary Supplement (© Times Newspapers Ltd. (London) 1967; reproduced from The Times Literary Supplement by permission), No. 3404, May 25, 1967, p. 447.∗