My rating: 8/10.
This is Anna Buchan’s literary tribute to her beloved mother. The story is almost completely biographical; the author has written it in the form of a fictional conversation between daughter and mother as the daughter is attempting to record the mother’s memoirs. Though a little awkward at times as one shifts between past and present, on the whole it works quite well. I found it a very moving story; the Buchans were a very close family with a strong moral sense and, to leaven that morality, a keen sense of humour.
The family had its share of tragedies, including the deaths of their adored daughter Violet at the age of 5, eldest son William in India of illness at the age of 32, and youngest son Alistair killed in action in France in 1917, aged 22. Anna’s father died suddenly in 1911 at the age of 64, leaving his widow and surviving children Anna, John and James to sincerely mourn his passing.
Ann and Her Mother takes place some years after Reverend John Buchan’s death. Nostalgic flashbacks detail the courtship and marriage of “Ann’s” parents and her father’s establishment as a respected and beloved Scottish Free Church minister, and the childhood of their five children.
A very quiet story, probably best appreciated by those already familiar with Anna Buchan’s more obviously fictional tales, though she was frank in declaring that she was an observational writer and her fictions were drawn very directly from real life and the people she knew. This gives a background setting to the life of the novelist herself, and I recognized the inspirations for many of the incidents and characters portrayed in her other works.
Anna Buchan also wrote about her father’s life in fictionalized form in her novel The Setons.