women of scotland

Women of Scotland by Helen Susan Swift is my most recent read. I bought it expecting a polished piece and I was disappointed, in places, by the context which with a little polishing would have been easier to read. Mostly by the typos. For instance, full stops were missed off sentences, weird paragraph spacing confused me as a reader, and misspelt words gave me a little chuckle.

It felt, sadly, too much like work to me. As I spend my days spotting mistakes I expected an historical book to have been checked over by a copyeditor. I wanted to relax and be informed. Instead I spent the entire time cringing at typos and formatting issues. Checking Goodreads revealed mixed reviews from people having trouble with the writing style and some phrases that imitated the Scottish accent.

Reviews

Writing is uneven making it hard to get through in spots. Definitely worth a read and gives a good overall description of the tenacity of Scottish women! (Lynn)

An Italian review stated:-

What a pity, what a wasted opportunity. I was expecting a book that talked about great Scottish women in an organic way, with geographical and historical contextualizations, to make everything accessible even to those who are not Scottish. Instead, I found in my hands a very long list of women who, in terms of weddings, places and deeds, were liquidated in a few lines, leaving my ignorance on the subject perfectly intact. (K115987)

For example, I too, despite living in Scotland, was dissapointed by the lack of a map. Of course there is also some great content in there that readers will enjoy. I loved the references to the tenacity of Scottish women, although the phrasing of it was repetitive.

Is it worth reading? Yes, it definitely is if you are interested in Scottish history.

Also, for those who write non-fiction, it’s always worth running your writing through beta-readers if you can’t afford a proofreader. Something I am doing currently, impatiently waiting for their feedback for my latest book A Friendship of Thistles while working on The Fisherwives of Auchmithie for which I have been conducting my own historical research.

Some writing tips

History is not an easy subject to portray. Here are some quick structural tips for history writers:

  • Are your facts correct?
  • Is it readable for a general audience in terms of phrasing, pacing, and geographical or other historical knowledge?
  • Before starting, consider the narrative arc and how to structure the chapters for the reader to follow you through logically.
  • Are the chapters well balanced, of a similiar length?
  • Have you hired a proofreader? 😉

Emma Parfitt

Proofreader for business and academic documents, translations, and English writing.

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