Sorting through my bookshelves in an attempt to find some room for the piles of books on my office floor, I came across a small, hardback copy of “The Bride of Lammermoor.” In all the years, and they are many, that I have owned this book, it has never been read, so it seemed a good choice for the charity shop. On the other hand, it felt wrong to discard a book, I’d never tried, let alone a writer whose works I’d never sampled.
“The Bride of Lammermoor” is very much a Gothic novel, with a ruined castle, Wolf’s Crag, a terrifying storm, a dashing hero and beautiful heroine. Their love is doomed, the marriage between their rival families cursed and everything ends badly.
The novel is over-written, the Scots dialect both annoying and incomprehensible and yet…There are moments of unexpected insight in the depiction of the relationship between Ravenswood and Lucy, most striking of all his acute assessment of what she is really like and his understanding that in spite of the fact that she is not the right sort of girl for him, he will link his destiny to hers.
There are also moments of sheer comic brilliance, once one has managed to plough through the Scots dialogue as when Cleb Balderstone, Ravenswood’s servant, steals the food for his master’s supper from the innkeeper’s spit.
Would I read more Walter Scott? The answer is no. But I am glad that I sampled at least one of the books of the most successful novelist of his time.