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Sawney Beane: The Abduction of Elspeth Cumming Paperback – November 1, 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Sometimes legends can be true. However, this also means that the scary stories one reads as a child can also be. Sawney Beane: The Abduction of Elspeth Cumming is based on the legend of the Sawney Beane clan in Scotland, and tells the story of Elspeth Cumming as she is kidnapped by a ragged band of thugs and held against her will. A historical fiction account of her endeavor, her story is riveting reading. Sawney Beane is sure to keep its readers glued to the pages. --James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief, Midwest Book Review
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Sterling & Ross, Cambridge House Press; First edition (November 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0981453600
  • ISBN-13: 978-0981453606
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #548,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read thousands of books and over the years I've had to quantify why those books were good - either to a teacher or a friend, and I've changed my reasons many times, perhaps the age/wisdom thing, or maybe it's getting hard to recall details. For the past ten years, I've been recommending books to people based on how long that book stays in my head. Exciting books that I forget in a few months no longer qualify when the images and characters of other novels stay with me for years on end, never lessening their grip on my mind despite my preoccupation with other books and matters. This novel has stayed in my head for the past year and shows no sign of letting up.

Granted, I did sign up for this book the second I heard it was coming out, and Amazon promptly sent it to me and I devoured it in a day. Cannibals, incest, and a torch/farm implement-waving mob - you really can't go wrong with that combination. I've been wanting information about Sawney Beane and his murderous batch for many years, and this did quench a bit of that thirst. He is one of the most amazing (and I mean that in a bad way) characters in history, and he deserves more attention.

Now, I really wanted this novel to be better. I wanted richer details, better characterization, and a tangible atmosphere. When I read that the author has done children's books in the past, it ... sort of explained it. I felt that the novel was aimed at an audience with a lower (high school) educational level, and yet this is not the sort of thing I'd ever hand to high schoolers. I feel slightly cheated, and yet...and yet...the author still managed to drop me into a frightening experience that haunts me to this day. I see the cave, I smell the meat, I hear the screaming, I feel the sense of twisted community, I put my hands out in the dark not knowing what I will find....

Ah, I'm changing this to five stars. I loved this book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Frieda Gates's SAWNEY BEANE: THE ABDUCTION OF ELSPETH CUMMING is supposedly a "historical novel" about the legendary cannibalistic Beane clan that terrorized the Scottish coast in the 16th century. The story focuses on 15-year-old Elspeth Cumming, who is kidnapped by one of Sawney Beane's sons while on her way home from a convent school. The girl is secreted away in a dark cavern in the inner recesses of the clan's seaside cave, and she remains secreted away for the entire extent of the story. She has contact only with Sandy Beane (her kidnapper) and then later with Robbie, Sandy's older brother. Most of the time she is alone, confused, and lonely. And absolutely nothing happens to her, aside from the kidnapping itself. She keeps house for Robbie, who is seldom in residence, reads books, and writes in her journal. It's honestly not much of a story.

The huge majority of this novel provides background information on Sawney Beane and his girlfriend, Nettie, as well as Elspeth's weirdly dysfunctional parents. Gates's point seems to be that human beings are naturally perverse and horrible, since the non-Beane characters here (including Elspeth's parents) are almost as grotesque as the Beane family members. The description of the execution of the Beanes (at the end of the novel) is actually more disturbing than anything Gates writes about the Beanes themselves.

Whether or not Sawney Beane and his family of cannibals have any basis in fact (and most historians agree that they do not), Elspeth's story is pure fiction. As fiction, however, it's not very interesting.
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Format: Paperback
Excellent historical fiction that vivifies the legend of the Scottish cannibalistic clan. The author's experience in children's literature help her portray a believable character kidnapped by the clan and the complex emotions surrounding her captivity. I read this quickly as I was fascinated by the hope of the youngster thrown against the brutality of the clan.
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By C.S. on December 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
Sawney Beane is a very compelling story that probes the depths of man's depravity.

Incredible, horrible, disgusting....I couldn't put the book down. What a Great read!!
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