No Great Mischief

MacLeod, Alistair

  6 Reviews

In 1779, driven out of his home, Calum MacDonald sets sail from the Scottish Highlands with his extensive family. After a long, terrible journey he settles his family in 'the land of trees' until they become a separate Nova Scotian clan: red-haired and black-eyed, with its own identity, its own history.

Canadian writer MacLeod says: "In many ways [the book] is about the loss of a way of being." A tale that frequently switches from the folkloric past of a Celtic immigrant family forced from the Scottish Highlands in 1779 to that of the present narrator, Alexander MacDonald, a Nova Scotia descendant.

Winner IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, 2001.

Comments from Groups

What an amazing story. For once we were all in agreement, and had a great discussion around the relevant questions. We each found different passages in the novel that struck a chord, and this created further discussion. A book to be recommended. Isla Bank 001

We felt this book had beautiful, evocative prose. It was easy to visualise the scenery and the situations described. There was some debate about what the book was actually 'about'. Auckland 105

Very enjoyable - beautiful language. We enjoyed the repetition of vivid images - which didn't become mundane. We would have liked a little bit more about the history of Canada however. Wellington 008

We either liked it or not! We wondered if the pervasive sense of loss was either empathised with (or rejected) depending on one's own life experiences. Dunedin 061

A 50/50 split between 'likers' and 'dislikers' of this book. During discussion however, most thought the author's use of words was haunting - his descriptions evoking lots of discussion. Whangamata 001

We all enjoyed it. It's a great read - an excellent story with a clear style and lovely use of language. Wellington 050



CHCH 068
We thoroughly recommend this book: everyone enjoyed and appreciated it. A most interesting story/history and the writing was wonderfully evocative, also beautifully understated. The author trusts the readers to use their intelligence to understand nuance, particularly in the final chapter.
STEW 001
The end of the book generated much discussion - there were some differing interpretations. Most enjoyed the descriptive nature. "All of us are better when we are loved" was a phrase we were all touched by.
Very mixed responses. It felt like a very authentic memoir and evoked a very strong sense of connection with environment and family. Several of us would like to re-read it. Would have given it a 4 if the print had been bigger!
WANG 004
One of the best books we have read, and enjoyed by all. Wonderful writing with a superb story. Many thanks.
2 out of 12 enjoyed the book, and 4 found it hard-going and didn't finish. Some thought the writing style relaxed but beautiful.
AUCK 016
We all thoroughly enjoyed the book - many having Scottish ancestors so could relate to the story. We thought the language was great and very descriptive.