By Vanda Vadas
Mary Anne, it’s wonderful to be back on ‘Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots’. Thank you!
I think it fair to say that my first holiday in Scotland, back in the late 80’s, was the catalyst behind the inspiration for my soon-to-be-released Scottish Historical, The Prodigal Laird (March 2019).
A visit to Inverness and Drumossie Moor is not something one easily forgets. The place, its history, and my new-found knowledge of a battle fought there, was a profound and lasting memory. I revisited Scotland with my family a few years ago. Inverness and Culloden drew my return for research purposes, so too a visit to the Isle of Skye, in particular Dunvegan Castle, the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod for 800 years.
The Prodigal Laird is set in 1747 in the Scottish Highlands, and tells the story of Roderick MacLeod and Annabel MacDonald, married against their wishes, by proxy. The life and times they lived in were shaped by the aftermath of the battle of Culloden, fought near Inverness on 16th April, 1746.
In less than an hour, hundreds of Charles Edward Stuart’s Jacobite forces lost their lives on the battlefield (and beyond) against the Hanoverian forces commanded by William Augustus, the Duke of Cumberland. The battle ended all hope of the Stuart dynasty regaining the throne.
Bonnie Prince Charlie’s troops were vastly outnumbered by Cumberland’s army. Aside from being hungry, cold and exhausted after marching all night from an abortive foray, they were ill-equipped, their artillery poor, and lacked military strategy. They were no match for Cumberland’s cannon and cavalry and the ground underfoot handicapped the Jacobites main tactic – the charge.
|Bonnie Prince Charles.|
Not all clans rallied to the Prince’s standard. Some clansmen fought only to avoid any repercussions on their families and homes had they not answered their chief’s call. Other clansmen, like the MacLeods, chose to fight despite their chief’s disapproval.
In the weeks that followed, those Jacobites who fought in and escaped the battle were hunted down and killed. Charles evaded capture for five months. With the help of Flora MacDonald, he eventually made good his escape disguised as a woman and fled to France and final exile.
The Jacobites devastating defeat affected the whole future of the Highlands. It fractured and dismantled the Scottish clans and led to the Scottish clearances.
On the two occasions I visited Drumossie Moor, I stood before individual stones which mark the very place where collective clan members fell during the battle. It’s easy to understand why one’s emotions stir when giving thought to hundreds of kilted men whose blood soaked the marshy soil. Their gallant courage has passed into legend.
|Chief of MacGillivray.|
The National Trust for Scotland preserves the battlefield for Culloden, a place of pilgrimage.
The Prodigal Laird
His marriage might cease decades of hostilities between two clans, but that doesn't mean he wants it—or his bold new wife who is keeping secrets of her own.
Roderick MacLeod arrives in his native Scottish Highlands to pay brief respects to his recently deceased father—the man Roderick blames for the death of his English mother. But before he can return to England, he is saddled with two responsibilities he never asked for: the title of Laird of Clan MacLeod and an unwanted marriage, by proxy, to the daughter of a rival laird.
Annabel MacDonald thought she had the perfect marriage; her husband’s continued absence allowed her independence and the freedom to secretly hide and abet the escape of her fugitive clansmen. When the husband she’d never met shows up, she must convince him to return to England before he uncovers her many secrets, and perhaps her heart.-->
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Before residing in Australia, Vanda’s birthplace and early childhood years were spent in Papua New Guinea. At the age of eleven, a holiday in England sparked an interest in the days of old. Castles, ruins and discovering Jane Austen novels inspired a lifelong interest in all things historical, a passion that later kickstarted Vanda’s desire to write historical fiction. Her locale and global visits to faraway places inspire her to create fictitious characters and dramas set against authentic and geographical backdrops. The Gold Coast is home to Vanda and her husband, where they enjoy walks along world-renowned beaches or a quiet getaway to the lush hills of the Hinterland.