Originally published April 2021.
At first I thought there was only a single line of daffodils in the snow. I stopped to take photos. Like I would do on any other day out. A day out just for fun. Not that there have been many of those lately.
I walked along the path and headed down the steps where I was met with this stunning bank of yellow.
I couldn’t deny where I was anymore, of course. Not with the ambulances and then the familiar hospital front door. But I was just an out-patient this time. It wasn’t too bad. And I got to buy a chocolate aubergine in the food shop on the way back out!
It got me thinking and led me to conclude that I was lucky not to have had history ruined for me at school.
In Primary 3 (aged 7 or 8) I was fortunate to have a deeply enthused teacher and we did a project on the Jacobites. I recall a large wall painting of the bloody battle of Culloden and the fact that we studied Tam o’ Shanter by Robert Burns at the same time, the character of the witch, ‘Cutty Sark’, sticking well in my mind.
But for history, that was it. In secondary school there was a class called ‘Social Subjects’ which was meant to cover history, modern studies and geography. Our teacher believed that colouring in maps of crop rotation covered all of these, which, I suppose, technically, it did. So, three times a week for two years, that was our lot.
A decade later another set of students would set fire to their books in that class, perhaps to alleviate the stifling boredom, or perhaps in a (successful) attempt to get rid of the teacher.
So I never came to associate history with boredom. Colouring in, yes. History, no. And historical research is something I throw myself into with great fervour.
Quote from Barb’s review:
As an American now living in Scotland, I found Fireflies and Chocolate offers a rare look at the sometimes uncomfortable history we never learned in school. Author Ailish Sinclair takes the stories of real life characters and believably intertwines them in Elizabeth’s experience, while never losing sight of her main goal: telling a roaring good story with all the romance, danger, and dawning strength of character you could ask.
Other reviews I must mention are from Liz Lloyd who published hers on release day which was so helpful, and this one on Instagram from Adeline Bronner. I do love seeing the books ‘out in the wild’ as it were!
FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE, inspired by the 600 children and young people who were kidnapped from Aberdeen during the 1740s and sold into indentured servitude in the American Colonies, is out now. The story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith from the castle and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s proper derring-dos on the high seas… And there’s chocolate!
And, not to be forgotten, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, which features the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic and a love story.
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