This memoir offers an American woman's uniquely privileged view into the pastoral Scotland of today. By turns funny, heartwarming, and occasionally sad, it is the author's account of her marriage to a Scottish landowner and of the years they spent together at "The Guynd," his large ancestral estate. We follow her steep learning curve in dealing with a grand and crumbling mansion still recovering from the effects of two World Wars, as well as an overgrown landscape, a derelict garden, troublesome tenants, local aristocracy, Scottish rituals, and a husband for whom change is anathema. A son and heir draws the author into an intimate relationship with every tier of the local society, while a visiting American friend heightens the strain of the ever-present culture gap. Alternating between enchantment and despair, Rathbone digs into family and local history in an effort to understand her surroundings and free her husband from the grip of the past. Like a letter home from a strange land, this book offers a view of Scotland not found in the guide books. The tale of the journey through the wrought iron gates and up the long tree-lined drive into the living past is both wry and poignant, both oddball and deeply reflective of the ties that bind us.
A photography historian, BELINDA RATHBONE has written widely on modern and contemporary photographers. She is the author of Walker Evans, a New York Times Notable Book, and has contributed to magazines such as House & Garden and Architectural Digest.