|Plot Summary of No Great Mischief|
|""NO GREAT MISCHIEF", a 1999 award-winning Canadian novel by Alistair MacLeod, bursts on the literary scene like a modern-day epic, written in prose, not verse.
Filled with Gaelic music and poetry, like"The moon is the light of the poor",the novel tells the story of three year-old twins, orphaned when their parents are drowned walking the drift ice back to the island where the father is employed as the lighthouse keeper.
Brought up by the father's parents, the twins learn of the heritage from the grandmother's sayings. Called "the red-haired boy" in Gaelic, Alexander MacDonald did not know his real name until he entered school.
The story traces the family back to the Highland MacDonald clan in Scotland whose leaders were loyal to Bonnie Prince Charlie, through to the New World where they fought the French for Quebec under General Wolfe.
Later Wolfe wrote,"It would be No Great Mischief", if the Highlanders were killed in battle.
These words color the fate of the clan, beginning with Calum who emigrates to the bleak but beautiful Cape Breton Nova Scotia in 1799.
This Calum becomes a mythic figure, living to the age of 102, and who is finally buried in a solitary grave on a majestic headland.
The story then switches to the present-day Calum, Alexander's sixteen year-old brother who becomes the titular clan head when his parents die.
Through Calum's adventures, first as a fisherman, and then working in the uranium mines of Ontario, the author depicts the desperate lives of Cape Bretoners as they are forced to leave their beloved highlands to make a living.
Valiant dogs and loyal horses accompany their masters in the story of the clan's heroic endeavors.
In the end, Alexander, the "red-haired boy", remembers his Grandmother's favorite saying,"There's nothing worse than a nail in your shoe".
"Perhaps for us", Alexander thinks,"the nail did not protrude in the same way." Life for him and his twin sister is not as unforgiving as it has been for his forbears.
Along the way, in "NO GREAT MISCHIEF",the author has created an intricate tapestry, sure to fascinate all who follow its colorful threads.
Betty-Jeanne Korson, Resident Scholar
|Review Analysis of No Great Mischief|
Our unique search engine provides a wealth of detail about books by breaking them down into many different literary elements, all of which are searchable (click here).
Ratings are on a 1-10 scale (Low to High)
Time/era of story
Kind of living:
- farm poverty
- general poverty story
Strong "rags to riches" component?
Family, struggle with
Family, loving relations
Is this an adult or child's book?
- Adult or Young Adult Book
Outside culture (society)
Is this an ordinary person caught up in events?
How sensitive is this character?
- sensitive to others' feelings
Sense of humor
- Strong but gentle sense of humor
- Average intelligence
- bulging muscles
How much of work is main antagonist actually present in:
- a little/some
How much descriptions of surroundings?
- 10 ()
The Americas (not US):
- food/shelter preoccupation
- Atlantic Ocean Island
Small town people:
- nice, like Andy/Opie/Aunt Bee
- mostly 1st
Accounts of torture and death?
- explicit references to deaths
Sex in book?
What kind of sex:
- vague references
- a lot of flashback and forwards
Amount of dialog
- significantly more dialog than descript
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Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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