Taking the High Road by Harry Hunter
I enjoy short stories. They are good to read on the train, when time does not allow for the concentration a novel requires and just before I go to sleep. So I was very excited when my friend in the village who writes under the name of Harry Hunter told me he had been commissioned to produce a book of short stories to come out this year. There is a lot going on in Scotland this year with the Commonwealth Games being held in Glasgow, a referendum about whether or not Scotland should separate from the rest of Great Britain (Gordon Brown’s book on the subject is reviewed here https://bookreviewstoday.wordpress.com/2014/10/06/my-scotland-ou…y-gordon-brown/) and then Harry’s book too. Exciting times.
Harry was Professor and Head of Department of Landscape at a major UK University until he retired a year or two ago. He trained originally as an environmental scientist and then studied town planning. He developed a strong interest in the interplay between development and ecosystems. This evolved into specialisms on local sustainable development and the changing cultural landscape.
Since his retirement Harry has re-developed his writing talents from professional and academic reports and papers to writing fiction. He has had considerable success in this regard winning several short story competitions and publishing both short stories and poetry.
In this book, Taking the High Road, which I read in the kindle edition, Harry has written collection of short stories about settling in Kilfinan. This is an imagined township west of Glasgow, Scotland. A professional couple from England wants to get involved with a local church and each story is about getting involved with a new character. At first when I started reading the book, I wondered as to whether it is a book of short stories or more accurately an epistolary novel. However, by the time I had read the first four stories I had decided that I agreed the book consisted of short stories as Harry said.
It is a gentle book with a genuine feel good factor. The stories are quite different to the twist in the tale style of stories that I have associated this author with to date. As a result of this, it took me a coupe of stories to get into the new rhythm and feel of this book. It is difficult to pick out particular stories, however, I think my favourite story is CLARE:Using your loaf. I did enjoy PIRAN: An Embarrassment of Parents very much too.
Take the High Road is not a roller coaster of thrills, however, all the stories are delightful and offer food for thought to the reader as well as entertainment. I highly recommend this book. I really enjoyed the stories.