Monday, April 30

Book Review: The Penguin Book of Scottish Short Stories

Title: The Penguin Book of Scottish Short Stories

Author: J.F Hendry (editor)

Pages: 237

Summary: In the twenty stories collected here we are given a multifaceted view of Scotland, the Scots and the Scottish short story. The stories range from Roman Britain through the trials of those at home during the Second World War, to a country and people determined to assert their independence.

The Story of Jorel Hayforks - George Mackay Brown
Out of Hand - Elspeth Davie
The Money - Ian Hamilton Finlay
The Potato Planters and The Old Joiner's Funeral  - Ian Hamilton Finlay
The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea - J. A. Ford
A Wee Nip - Edward Gaitens
Smeddum - Lewis Grassic Gibbon
Mirahuano - R. B. Cunninghame-Graham
The Old Man - Neil M. Gunn
Choice - Margaret Hamilton
Vocation - Dorothy K. Haynes
The Caves of Altamira -  J. F. Hendry
Christian Justice - Robin Jenkins
Sealskin Trousers - Eric Linklater
A House in Sicily - Neil McCallum
A Trifle Unnecessary - Moray McLaren
Mithras, My Saviour - Naomi Mitchison
Scotch Settlement - Neil Paterson
The House of the Famous Poet - Muriel Spark
Elephants, Bairns and Old Men - Fred Urquhart

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Rich with Scottish culture and spirit, this collection of short stories was very well written containing some terrific short stories, I hope to find more works by some of the authors showcase in this collection, as many of them are well worth checking out again.

Some of my favourites were The Caves of Altamira, Mithras, My Saviour, Elephants, Bairns and Old Men and The Story of Jorel Hayfolds. I don't think there was a story in the collection which I didn't like in some degree Christian Justice for example was a story I didn't like as much as others, but it was because of the characters in it, and their actions. The author in this story managed to give the reader a very good a hard look at the characters and their inner psyche. Which I really appreciated seeing in a short story. In Elephats, Bairns and Old Men, I loved the atmosphere the author set up, and I thought the ending of that particular story was quite beautiful. The Caves of Altamira was another example where the author did a extremely good job at fleshing out the characters and the full story, in such a short amount of time.

The only issue I had with the book, and it's more of a personal preference was that some I enjoyed, others not so much. But I find this with most short story collections and this particular one was a great collection which I hope leads me to some more books by Scottish authors.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it was a very enjoyable read and I found a nice list of Scottish authors which I don't seem to find a lot of. I think it is a great collection of short stories and a good place to start if you're looking for Scottish writing/stories.

What to read next: There is also  Penguin Book of Welsh Short Stories and Penguin Book of Irish Short Stories, so you can start there (as well as two British, and American short stories in the same collection.) I'd also check out some of the authors other works from the collection.

Challenges: 12 in 12, 100+ Challenge, ShortStories Challenge


  1. I'm on a short-story-collection binge right now. I love having them to read over lunch! These sound wonderful.

    1. Very worthy collection! There's a few companion collections I listed also worth reading. I've also been reading a lot of short story collections as of late.