Monday, February 19, 2007

My visit to Scotland with Liz Curtis Higgs

OK, I really didn't go...but I felt like I did!

I just interviewed Liz Curtis Higgs about her wonderful armchair travel book, My Heart's in the Lowlands: Ten Days in Bonny Scotland.

After finishing the book, the images and impressions remain, hovering over me like a gentle Scottish mist. One of the dreams of my life is to see Scotland in person, but surely this book is the next best thing.

One of the things I love about Liz's fiction books is her beautifully evocative descriptive ability, and she puts that gift to good use as our tour guide through the Scottish lowlands. Not only in her lyrical descriptions of gorgeous landscapes and scenery, or ancient abbies and castles--but we can practically taste the food, as in this instruction on how to eat a scone:

"First, a thin coat of butter. Next comes that little pot of raspberry jam. Do be generous with your spoon. Now for the clotted cream, light as any whipped cream yet with a different consistency and a far superior flavor. Spoon it on top, hiding all that lovely jam, so each bite is a surprise.

"Do keep your napkin handy, because if you've done this right, you'll soon be wearing a spot of cream on the end of your nose."

Liz writes this book as if you, the reader, were accompanying her on the journey, and it's a device that worked for me. Indeed, when I interviewed Liz, I kept saying, "You told me earlier..." when in fact, she hadn't told me personally, I was just so into my role as her traveling companion that I apparently felt as if passages in the book really were directed right at me!

Such is the magic of this book.

She takes us to historic castles and churches, charming bed-and-breakfasts, inns where Robert Burns ate (and drank) and slept, the stomping grounds of Robert the Bruce, wonderfully informative museums and cozy bookstores. A seasoned traveler who loves Scotland passionately and knows it intimately, she makes us feel we're right by her side.

If you've always longed to visit Scotland, or even if you're just an avid Higgs reader like me, you'll love this book.

TOMORROW: Some sound clips from my interview with Liz Curtis Higgs.

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