Tuesday, July 6

Book Review: No Great Mischief

Title: No Great Mischief

Author: Alistair MacLeod

Pages: 283

Summary: Alexander MacDonald guides us through his family's mythic past as he recollects the heroic stories of his people: loggers, miners, drinkers, adventurers; men forever in exile, forever linked to their clan. There is the legendary patriarch who left the Scottish Highlands in 1779 and resettled in "the land of trees," where his descendants became a separate Nova Scotia clan. There is the team of brothers and cousins, expert miners in demand around the world for their dangerous skills. And there is Alexander and his twin sister, who have left Cape Breton and prospered, yet are haunted by the past. Elegiac, hypnotic, by turns of joyful and sad, No Great Mischief is a spellbinding story of family, loyalty, and the blood ties that bind us to the land from which out ancestors came.

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Wonderful prose and storytelling ability, Alistair MacLeod is yet another example of the excellent talent in Canada. What I enjoyed most about this novel was how it was told; MacLeod has an ability to be able to tell a story with incredible poise. I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly attracted me to this style of writing or how the story was told, but whatever it was, allowed me to become lost in Calum Clan’s family history

There are parts in the story, the trials and triumphs, that make you smile and break your heart (the Calum dog when they leave Scotland, parents on the ice, the dog again (that part really broke my heart). In any case, the author was detailed in creating a very realistic life and circumstances for his characters and setting. When reading this you can tell the author was very aware of how everything works in the world around his setting and characters, and how this affects how the characters interact with one another.

The author also does an incredible job at creating his characters and how his characters interacted with one another; he made them believable. You kind of get the feeling that you were picking up a memoir about an old Scottish Family, following their journey to Canada and the decedents’ journeys afterwards. The cast of characters, and their relationships were lovely, but I did find I didn’t love his characters; I didn’t have the feeling where I hated to see something bad happened to them. So although he did do a wonderful job with creating a cast of characters, they weren’t ones who I really fell in love with, but that was my only major issue with the book. For the most part, it was an enjoyable read, from a very gifted author.

Would I recommend it to read: Yes, I would recommend this book to read, especially if you enjoy reading books that focus a lot on the characters, their lives, and how they interact with each other, and of course their family history. With that being said, those who aren’t fans of books which focus mainly on these elements may not find the book to be interesting, wonderful example on excellent quality of writing, but I can see some who wouldn’t enjoy the book

What to read next: The Gathering, One Hundred Years of Solitude (this one because both books follow a family through generations and focus on the family and their histories)

Challenges: Read ‘n’ Review, Pages Read, 10/10 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, Canadian Book Challenge, RYOB Challenge


  1. I bought this book awhile ago at a bookstore closing sale. I picked up a lot that day, and I didn't really know what all I was getting. I am so glad to hear that this is just the type of book I will love, and that you loved it as well. Great review, Jules!

  2. Zibilee - Ohhh. Bookstore closing sale! Lucky you! I hope you'll enjoy the book when you read it, let me know when you do.

  3. This sounds wonderful. I have Island by this author waiting to be read.

  4. Diane - Now that I've read this book, I want to get my hands on the Island. Hopefully soon. I hope which ever book you read by him, it's an enjoyable read.

  5. We read this in our book club a couple years ago and I really enjoyed it.

  6. Teena in Toronto - I've been dying to join a local book club. Haven't found one in my area. I'm in the GTA area, but most of them in the area are still hard for me to get to. Glad you enjoyed it.