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No Great Mischief: A Novel by Alistair…
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No Great Mischief: A Novel (original 1999; edition 2001)

by Alistair Macleod

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1,783568,075 (4.05)332
In 1779, driven out of his home, Calum MacDonald sets sail from the Scottish Highlands with his extensive family. After a long, terrible journey he settles his family in 'the land of trees', and eventually they become a separate Nova Scotian clan- red-haired and black-eyed, with its own identity, its own history.It is the 1980s by the time our narrator, Alexander MacDonald, tells the story of his family, a thrilling and passionate story that intersects with history- with Culloden, where the clans died, and with the 1759 battle at Quebec that was won when General Wolfe sent in the fierce Highlanders because it was 'no great mischief if they fall'.… (more)
Member:rcoen
Title:No Great Mischief: A Novel
Authors:Alistair Macleod
Info:Vintage (2001), Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library, Currently reading
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No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod (1999)

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» See also 332 mentions

English (55)  Spanish (1)  All languages (56)
Showing 1-5 of 55 (next | show all)
Touching story. Wonderful storyteller. Genuine characters. Vivid surroundings. ( )
  TMLL | Aug 1, 2022 |
Excellent ( )
  maryzee | May 11, 2022 |
Had never heard of this book till a friend said it was her favourite read ever...I see what she means.
A 50-something dentist goes to visit his alcoholic brother in an insalubrious Toronto boarding house. In succeeding chapters, he recalls incidents in their shared life. Moving back and forth through time...a conversation here, an event there....going back even further to the family mythology of their first Scottish forebears to migrate to Canada...this is the most tremendously moving novel.
The thing that stood out for me was how the writing is SO superb that he can wring your heart, even for characters who have barely appeared. Brother Colin is hardly mentioned until...an event occurs....yet that doesnt stop the reader being completely caught up in the trauma. Subsequent references to him just add to it.
Although a family memoir, Macleod is also aware of the experience of immigrants...from the Mexican fruit-pickers to the Vietnamese facing US aggression and the Masai...encountered on an African holiday...being pushed out. He links these to his own family, fleeing the problems in Scotland for more difficulties in the harsh new life. The first Highland soldiers, serving under a sceptical General Wolfe, were seen as without value, it being, in his view, "no great mischief if they fall". And as the Gaelic-speaking clan in Canada come to face death, jail, violence,antipathy, maybe they feel the modern world views them similarly.
One of best books I've ever read. Got it from library but will order my own copy to keep..Superb writing. ( )
  starbox | Jun 8, 2021 |
No Great Mischief comes from a letter from General Wolfe about the Highlanders fighting with him to take Quebec. The full quote is "no great mischief if they fall" as he didn't regard the Scots highly. The book by Alistair MacLeod tells the story of a MacDonald family branch that comes to Cape Breton to settle. Living off the land and sea, it is a hard life. They follow their customs, speak Gaelic, and play the music of the Highlands.
Alexander MacDonald is a twin with his sister who are the youngest of a family that undergoes a terrible tragedy. Raised by his grandparents, he tells the story of his family with frequent flashbacks from his current life as a well-to-do dentist.
It is a story about family and tradition. There's a quote repeated throughout the book: 'All of us are better when we're loved.' No matter their difficulties, these people stuck together through good times and bad.
Mr. MacLeod's writing is lovely. He has a style of writing much like a tone poem. Each paragraph is a new painting set before the reader to savor and absorb. I'm usually a fast reader, but I found myself taking my time through this story, sometimes only reading a page and putting the book aside, the better to reflect.
One of the classics of Canadian literature, No Great Mischief is a book to be cherished and reread. ( )
  N.W.Moors | Oct 23, 2018 |
A beautiful book about a family in/from the Canadian Maritimes, their hard lives, their loves and the land itself. This man can WRITE! Every sentence is a poem. You feel what they feel, smell what they smell and love what/who they love! ( )
  Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 55 (next | show all)
He does not take readers to as many different places and psyches as his country's very best writer, Alice Munro, but he indelibly renders a Cape Breton we are never likely to visit -- a terrain where the ''dog days'' are the coldest, not the muggiest, and where the ocean wind has forced enough sand into the trees that ''when the saw passed through them in the early darkness of the fall and winter evenings, streaks of blue and orange flame shot from them.''
 

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alistair MacLeodprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bernascone, RossellaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Helmond, Joop vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martínez-Lage… MiguelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tarkka, HannaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This book is for Anita, "mo bhean 's mo ghraidh."
Appreciation also to our chidren: Alexander, Lewis,
Kenneth, Marion, Daniel, and Andrew.
Not to forget our lost son Donald.
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As I begin to tell this, it is the golden month of September in southwestern Ontario.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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In 1779, driven out of his home, Calum MacDonald sets sail from the Scottish Highlands with his extensive family. After a long, terrible journey he settles his family in 'the land of trees', and eventually they become a separate Nova Scotian clan- red-haired and black-eyed, with its own identity, its own history.It is the 1980s by the time our narrator, Alexander MacDonald, tells the story of his family, a thrilling and passionate story that intersects with history- with Culloden, where the clans died, and with the 1759 battle at Quebec that was won when General Wolfe sent in the fierce Highlanders because it was 'no great mischief if they fall'.

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W.W. Norton

An edition of this book was published by W.W. Norton.

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