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on May 9, 2001
As someone of Scottish descent and a student of Anthropology and History, I really appreciated this text. There are a myriad of books available that purport to tell about Scottish customs, or focus on some narrow aspect of Scottish life, such as clan associations. This book, however, addresses the whole gamet of life of the Scottish folk, from motherhood and child-rearing, through the rites of passage into adulthood, and finally the passage from life into eternal life. Bennett draws upon a wide selection of historical sources, disparite in both locale and time period. Relying not only upon the historical record, but utilizing her expertise as a folklorist, Bennett elicits ethnogrpahic data which she presents and uses to draw her conclusions. She paints a vivid picture of life in Scotland that offers new and insightful ways in which to look at Scottish cultural practices. I highly recommend this lucid, yet academic and well-researched book regarding Scottish customs to anyone wishing to get beyond the surface aspects of the fascinating and vibrant traditional Scottish cultural patterns.
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on March 28, 2008
I'd say the previous reviewer covered this one pretty well. This is a well-written guide to the customs and culture of Scotland literally from the cradle to the grave, looking at motherhood, childhood, courting and youthful romance, some recent and modern marital traditions, real 'Highland Weddings', the Scottish attitudes towards death, burial rites, and the associated bodies of spirituality and folklore for all of these topics. The bulk of the book's text is the writings of Scots (or foreign observers of their customs), mostly in the 19th and 20th Centuries, though some of the book's content goes back as far as the later Middle Ages. This means that most of it is the memories and first-hand experiences of people who have lived the unique customs of Scotland. I greatly enjoyed this book, and anyone interested in the culture of recent-modern Scotland will as well.
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on July 17, 2008
This book is the real deal - it's based on multiple conversations with real Scottish people, who shared their most intimate life stories as well as the stories of their parents, grandparents and earlier ancestors. Anyone who wants to truly "get" Scottish culture (which has changed, of course, but still reflects its history), needs to add this book to the library.
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on March 30, 2011
Through this anthology Margaret Bennett brings the reader a very human and engaging glimpse into scottish traditions and customs gleaned from writings dating back to the sixteenth century, through to a collection of memories and experiences recorded in the twentieth and twenty first centuries.
As an Australian with a Scottish heritage, and the family historian, this extremely readable volume puts a background, a context and a human face on the customs and manners that sometime in the eighteenth century followed our family - and indeed many foundation families - to a new country. For the historian and for the general reader, this enjoyable and well considered work provides some "aha" moments as the reader recognises the influence of ancient customs, superstitions and wisdoms on how we still celebrate the important moments of our lives "from the cradle to the grave". A very worthwhile book.
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on March 3, 2011
Takes you by the hand and walks you through day-to-day customs: courting, birth, baptism, relationships, marriage, death. It is weak on the custom of "bundling", but otherwise does an excellent, thorough job. The concept of a future bride carrying a chamber pot from house to house where she jumps over the pot several times in front of each door (filled with salt) and people insert coins into the salt is a delight. The author is careful to point out current and historic, urban and rural practices. This is robust. Photographs are unneeded, the author paints a thorough picture.
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VINE VOICEon August 1, 2011
This is a very well-written, thorougly-researched book about birth, courtship and marriage, and death customs of all the regions of Scotland, written by a renowned teacher and scholar of Scottish folklore. It moves very logically through these three life events, and the resources used describe the customs very well. At first, some of the content seems repetitious, but readers who pay attention to the dates of the resources and the region being covered will see how the customs have remained the same (or not) over many years and in the different regions of Scotland. Each of the three major sections is approximately one hundred pages.

There are about twenty-five pages of back matter consisting of a glossary of Scots and Gaelic terms, a list of further reading, a bibliography of the resources Ms. Bennett used in the book, and an index.

That being said, this book would not be helpful for people who are simply planning a first trip to Scotland. This is a scholarly work, very heavy on research both in the field (interviews) and in libraries. It is written by a scholar and teacher for scholars, and serves its intended purpose and audience well.
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on July 6, 2015
I enjoyed her book. It helped me understand the Scottish culture a little better. Hence Outlander. Also, death and the way our society now treats the grieving person, just get over it attitude which is cruel. It didn't used to be that way. People used to care and help. This book was a recommendation as a source by Diana Gabaldon in her Outlander books. I bought it because I was interested and I also have met Margaret Bennett and she is a very nice person!!
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on April 13, 2011
I really enjoyed the book and the insights into life in Scotland. The book keeps you interested and reading. I also enjoyed the side bars with corresponding history notes that keeps the life and times of all humans connected.
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on December 28, 2010
Husband from Campbell Clan. This book is full of stories and individual recollections. I, as a writer, would use this book as a tool if I wrote especially about 19th century Scotland. I read for over an hour before looking up once.
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on June 17, 2009
This is fascinating. I love the details of everyday life down to the most ordinary things. A fascinating look at our own lives if we lived them in Scotland. Makes me want to visit there.
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