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‘A tale I have for you.’
Embra, winter of 1574. Queen Mary has fled Scotland, to raise an army from the French. Her son and heir, Jamie is held under protection in Stirling Castle. John Knox is dead. The people are unmoored and lurching under the uncertain governance of this riven land. It’s a deadly time for young student Will Fowler, short of stature, low of birth but mightily ambitious, to make his name.
Fowler has found himself where the scorch marks of the martyrs burned at the stake can be seen on every street, where differences in doctrine can prove fatal, where the feuds of great families pull innocents into their bloody realm. There he befriends the austere stick-wielding philosopher Tom Nicolson, son of a fishing family whose sister Rose, untutored, brilliant and exceedingly beautiful exhibits a free-thinking mind that can only bring danger upon her and her admirers.
The lowly students are adept at attracting the attentions of the rich and powerful, not least Walter Scott, brave and ruthless heir to Branxholm and Buccleuch, who is set on exploiting the civil wars to further his political and dynastic ambitions. His friendship and patronage will lead Will to the to the very centre of a conspiracy that will determine who will take Scotland’s crown.
Rose Nicolson is a vivid, passionate and unforgettable novel of this most dramatic period of Scotland’s history, told by a character whose rise mirrors the conflicts he narrates, the battles between faith and reason, love and friendship, self-interest and loyalty. It confirms Andrew Greig as one of the great contemporary writers of fiction.
I loved this book -- Richard Holloway Exceptionally enjoyable . . . Greig very skilfully combines a gripping adventure story with an exploration of the dark forces that shaped Scottish history. * Sunday Times * Prepare to be pitched back in time in this visceral and passionate novel set in 16th Century Scotland * Sunday Post Dundee * [A] highly entertaining historical novel * Independent * Andrew Greig's novel is written in archaic Scots; the result is an immersive reading experience, helped along by a glossary. This is a meaty, satisfying novel and the character of Rose, a strong woman trapped by her circumstances, will linger long. * Times * [N]ever allows the narrative to flag. William Fowler is his perfect alter ego, a poet, a gowfer and a natural raconteur * Literary Review * This novel is full of surprises, rich in delights. Greig writes with rare authority and understandings. Sometimes it seems as if he was behind a heavy tapestry or curtain listening to everything being said, then keeking through a gap to view the action. * The Scotsman * Mr Greig is a master at conjuring atmosphere, very good on taste and aroma-'the smell of ink, that dark and pungent rot'-and keeps his complex tangle of plotlines taut. He avoids quaint archaism and possesses the ability to make the past feel present to the people he describes * Country Life * [A] rich, lyrical, rackety, colourful read. * Daily Mail * Rose Nicolson is a remarkable novel, a work of imagination, intelligence and gusto . . . the novel is full of surprises, rich in delights. Greig writes with rare authority and understanding. * The Scotsman Magazine * [A] brilliant combination of romance and historical insight, and Rose is an intriguing heroine. * Woman & Home * [A]n exquisitely crafted historical novel that elegantly evokes 16th century Embra while also providing a thrilling snapshot of the struggle for power over Scotland's crown. * Wee Review * This is a gripping and engrossing retelling of a dramatic period in Scottish history by an appealing and engaging narrator. * Countryman Magazine * A vivid and passionate novel set in 16th Century Scotland * Edinburgh Life * Rose Nicolson is a remarkable novel, a work of imagination, intelligence and gusto . . .This novel is full of surprises, rich in delights. Greig writes with rare authority and understanding . . . it is lucid and has the essential rapidity that a historical romance requires. -- Allan Massie * The Scotsman *
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