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My Friends the Miss Boyds

Jane Duncan

Vivid, funny and touched with tragedy, Jane Duncan’s first novel My Friends the Miss Boyds was an instant bestseller when it was published in 1959. Jane Duncan evokes the world she knew as a child, a closely woven community on Scotland’s remote and beautiful Black Isle. Into this small, self-reliant society towards the end of the First World War come the Miss Boyds, silly, would-be sophisticated outsiders from Inverness. Their disruptive effect foreshadows a wider impact on the rural way of life as war is followed by economic depression.

This little gem has been unearthed from 1959 … It’s a semi autobiographical study. Janet Sandison is remembering her childhood in a Highlands community in 1918, in particular the Miss Boyds, six ‘old maids’ whose comedic turn slowly becomes deeply poignant.

Holly Kyte, Sunday Telegraph, July 2010

But the unfolding drama of the Miss Boyds (click here for Janet’s first encounter with them) is just one thread running through this remarkable portrayal of life beside the Cromarty Firth nearly a century ago. The eccentric characters who shape Janet’s childhood are drawn with wit and affection, the dialogue is full of fun and vitality, and there are some tour-de-force set pieces such as the last Harvest Home. (Click here to read of Janet’s preparations for the Sword Dance.)

It gives a lovingly written picture of traditional Scottish croft and village life, much as Cranford did of Cheshire, a century earlier.

Pauline Ashton, The Lady, August 2010

This softback edition, published in 2010 to celebrate the centenary of Jane Duncan’s birth, includes a new Afterword in which Jane Duncan’s niece and nephews share their memories of their aunt. The specially commissioned jacket illustration is by Kate Baylay. (Click here to see more of Kate’s work. Kate also drew the jacket illustration for the Millrace edition of My Friend Monica (2011).)

My Friends the Miss Boyds is an enchanting novel … It is a full, rich life that Miss Duncan describes and her characterisations are sharp and sometimes poignant.

The Times, 1959

For more information about the author, please visit our Jane Duncan page. For Catherine Deveney’s Scotland on Sunday article on Jane Duncan’s life and writing, click here. For a review in the Daily Mail, click here.

190x134mm, xvii + 280 pp
list price
978 1 902173 313