Burns Night, and a Special Recipe from Sue Lawrence

Posted on January 25, 2022

Happy Burns Night! 

At Saraband we’re welcoming 2022, Year of the Tiger, with open arms and renewed energy. What better way to start than the feasting, music and dancing that usually comes with Burns Night? 

Burns Night is a celebration of the birthday of Scotland’s national bard, Robert Burns. But, given that we’re only cautiously reopening and won’t be partying at a ceilidh this time (and we’re sick of reading about irresponsible partying just now!), we’re choosing to play it safe. So instead of gathering for the festivities, we’re using the occasion to acknowledge Scotland’s wider cultural contribution to the world. We’re incredibly proud to have our own small part to play in this, particularly in publishing the stories of Scotland’s women, both historical and contemporary. This year, then, to get you into the spirit of Rabbie, however you celebrate the evening, our post is dedicated to the wonderful Scottish novels by women we are proud to publish this spring. 

Sue Lawrence’s third novel with Saraband, The Green Lady, is publishing in March. This is a gripping tale of court intrigue, secrets, treachery and murder, based on the true lives of Lilias Drummond, Alexander Seton – 1st Earl of Dunfermline and Lord Chancellor of Scotland – and his aunt Marie Seton, one of the “Four Marys” who were ladies-in-waiting to Mary, Queen of Scots. Lawrence casts a fascinating light on the ruthless nature of power, and the story highlights the precarious position of sixteenth-century women, even those in the most privileged of circumstances. 

Sue, as a cookery writer and winner of Masterchef as well as a novelist, has also kindly provided us with a Burns supper recipe for Scots Trifle, if you’re looking for a delicious variation on the traditional Cranachan dessert.  Click here to see.

Taking another delve into Scotland’s cultural history is Olga Wojtas with the third in her quirky, madcap series, Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Weird Sisters, also publishing in March. Variously compared with Jasper Fforde, the Marx Brothers, PG Wodehouse and Stella Gibbons, the books are an unusual homage to Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and have been showered with praise and prize nominations. The latest instalment draws on the “other” bard’s original Scottish Play, Macbeth, so we can think of no better addition to your reading wishlist on Burns Night. Why not take your mind off the news with some fun reading by catching up on the previous titles in the series?

Finally, we simply can’t write about Burns Night without acknowledging Jean Armour, the woman who inspired and loved Robert Burns, but who is too often left out of the story. Catherine Czerkawska remedies this with her novel The Jewel, which brings to glorious life the dramatic years of Jean Armour and Robert Burns’s courtship, and their tempestuous, passionate married life, against a background simmering with political intrigue and turmoil. Their marriage endured against all odds, its rocky course revealing Jean’s indomitable strength and character. How Jean lived with – and frequently without – her famous husband is surely Scotland’s greatest love story.

Slàinte math!