On Rick Steve’s recommendation (in a UK guide book) I read Belinda Rathbone’s memoir The Guynd (rhymes with the wind). It is a poignant account of an American woman who marries a modern Scottish Laird. Does this sound romantic? The stuff of Jane Austen, Robert Louis Stevenson, or the Brontë sisters? Their quirky courtship is more dalliance than alliance.
When she married the laird, he offered her the land. But the Guynd is not Pemberley; no servants dusted and hoovered the carpets. “I had left Mansfield Park and entered Bleak House.” Overwhelming effort is required to restore the run-down Georgian house and 400-acre estate. But “the Lady” has determination and energy and good taste. When they roll up the brown linoleum that was put down during WWII her spirits pick up the promise of more dramatic change. Anyone interested in interior decorating will join in the excitement. Photos here.
Different sensibilities and priorities create tension between John and Belinda. The story begins with a crumbling mansion and ends, sadly, with a decaying marriage. Belinda writes exceedingly well of modern Scotland: landowner-tenant relationships, tea rituals, famous frugality, education, sense of time, and the bitter cold.
It was an easy/hard read. For the portrait of Scotland, and the well-crafted prose, it was engaging, winsome, even charming. For the heart-ache and depleted spirit, the seeming futility and failure of restoration and of relationship, it was depressing.