Buchan of the Month: Sir Quixote of the Moors by John Buchan #ReadJB2020

Appropriately, perhaps, my first Buchan of the Month for 2020 is John Buchan’s first published novel, Sir Quixote of the Moors. You can find out more about the project and my reading list for 2020 here. What follows is an introduction to Sir Quixote of the Moors.   I will be publishing my review of the book later this month.

20200118_131258Sir Quixote of the Moors was published by T Fisher Unwin in the UK and by Henry Holt & Co in the US in October 1895, by which time Buchan was in his first year at Brasenose College, Oxford to which he had won a scholarship. He had started writing the book whilst in his last year at Glasgow University and the book is dedicated to his tutor, Gilbert Murray.

In early signs of the industrious nature which would be his lifelong habit, Janet Adam Smith, Buchan’s first biographer, quotes him recording, “I would do a few sentences in the morning while waiting for breakfast, a few more at the Union, and more at night in the intervals of my College work.”

Janet Adam Smith reports Buchan was annoyed his publisher changed the title from simply Sir Quixote, adding ‘of the Moors’ apparently to fall into line with the fashion in titles at the time. He was even more annoyed when his US publisher changed the ending quite fundamentally!

Although detecting echoes of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Catriona or Kidnapped (Buchan was an ardent admirer of Stevenson), Adam Smith is unimpressed with the book describing its construction as ‘rather clumsy’ and the writing ‘rather precious’. Buchan scholar, David Daniell, is a little more generous, describing it as ‘a little masterpiece’ praising the balance ‘between motion and stillness, between wild and temperate weather, between outdoor and indoor, harsh and beautiful, older and younger, male and female’.

No sales figures are available for the book and at the time Janet Adam Smith’s biography of John Buchan was published in 1965, Sir Quixote of the Moors was one of the few Buchan novels not to have been published in paperback.


Janet Adam Smith, John Buchan: A Biography (OUP, 1985 [1965])
David Daniell, The Interpreter’s House: A Critical Assessment of John Buchan (Nelson, 1975)
Kenneth Hillier and Michael Ross, The First Editions of John Buchan: A Collector’s Illustrated Biography (Avonworld, 2008)

My Week in Books – 19th January 2020


On What Cathy Read Next last week

Blog posts

Monday – I published my review of Artefacts and Other Stories by Rebecca Burns.

Tuesday – This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic was Bookish Discoveries in 2019

WednesdayWWW Wednesday is the opportunity to share what I’ve just read, what I’m currently reading and what I plan to read next…and have a good nose around to see what other bloggers are reading.

Thursday – I shared my review of Mrs P’s Book of Secrets by Lorna Gray.

Friday – I published my review of Magician and Fool by Susan Wands.

Saturday – I shared my reading list for this year’s Buchan of the Month reading project.

As always, thanks to everyone who has liked, commented on or shared my blog posts on social media this week.

New arrivals

51NYxz1CnKL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts (paperback, giveaway prize courtesy of Quercus)

Maud Gage Baum, widow of the author of the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, met Judy Garland, the young actress playing the role of Dorothy on the set of The Wizard of Oz in 1939. At the time, Maud was seventy-eight and Judy was sixteen. In spite of their age difference, Maud immediately connected to Judy–especially when Maud heard her sing “Over the Rainbow,” a song whose yearning brought to mind the tough years in South Dakota when Maud and her husband struggled to make a living–until Frank Baum’s book became a national sensation.

This wonderfully evocative two-stranded story recreates Maud’s youth as the rebellious daughter of a leading suffragette, and the prairie years of Maud and Frank’s early days when they lived among the people–especially young Dorothy–who would inspire Frank’s masterpiece. Woven into this past story is one set in 1939, describing the high-pressured days on The Wizard of Oz film set where Judy is being badgered by the director, producer, and her ambitious stage mother to lose weight, bind her breasts, and laugh, cry, and act terrified on command. As Maud had promised to protect the original Dorothy back in Aberdeen, she now takes on the job of protecting young Judy.

41pum92q8oLWild Spinning Girls by Carol Lovekin (e-book, courtesy of Honno Press)

Ida Llewellyn loses her job and her parents in the space of a few weeks and, thrown completely off course, she sets off to Wales to the house her father has left her.

But Heather, the young woman still in her teens whose home it was, keeps the house as a shrine to her late mother and is determined to scare Ida away.

The two girls battle with suspicion and fear before discovering that the secrets harboured by their thoughtless parents have grown rotten with time, and that any ghosts Ty’r Cwmwl harbours are of their own making.

Their broken hearts will only mend once they cast off the house and its history, and let go of the keepsakes that they treasure like childhood dreams.

51l8f8qK2tLDistorted Days by Louise Worthington (e-book, courtesy of Rachel’s Random Resources)

Heart-rending, humorous and above all authentic, Distorted Days is an exquisitely written account of the ways in which life can knock you off our feet – and how you can pick yourself up again.

If you’ve experienced the fickleness of fortune, this is a book that you’ll never forget.

On What Cathy Read Next this week

Currently reading

Heaven My HomeTBR#7KatherineHitlers Secret

Planned posts

  • Top Ten Tuesday: Most Recent Additions To My Bookshelf
  • Waiting on Wednesday
  • Book Review: Burning Cold by Lisa Lieberman
  • Book Review: The Lady of the Ravens by Joanna Hickson
  • Blog Tour/Book Review: A Messy Affair by Elizabeth Mundy
  • Buchan of the Month: Introducing Sir Quixote of the Moors