Review: The Bride of Lammermoor by Sir Walter Scott

Beware the Ravenswood!

Sir Walter Scott’s, The Bride of Lammermoor is a must read for fans of the genre….a classic gothic romance! This is your ultimate indulgence gothic romance fans…honest and truly.

This ridiculously over the top tale has it all…witches, women going mad, a family fallen from grace, degenerative castles, ruined fortunes, Byronic heros, star crossed lovers, a dark prophecy, ominous symbology….everything!  It is MacBeth, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Wuthering Heights all rolled into one.

The novel is introduced as a tale based on a true story, set in Scotland at the time of Queen Anne (early 1700’s). Lord Ravenswood is dead and all that remains of the Ravenswood family is Master Ravenswood (Edgar) and the ruin known as Wolf’s Carg castle.

The Ravenswood family blames their demise on Sir William Ashton who profited at the Ravenswood’s expense….the Ravenswoods have been stripped of their titles after the rebellion and have subsequently lost their estates/fortunes as a result of a legal scheme gone awry.

Our dark brooding hero, Master Ravenswood, has inherited a pile of rocks and his father’s hatred of the Ashton family. He vows revenge. On the day he chooses to make his revenge known, he inadvertently saves the life of Lord Ashton and his daughter, Lucy Ashton, from a rogue bull.

From that moment on, Lucy and the Master begin a deep, loving, romantic courtship. The Master sees Lucy as his salvation…his angel….his one hope for redemption. Through her, he buries his demons and strives to make peace with the Ashton family. Lord Ashton readily accepts this peace and rejoices in the possibility of a union between the Ravenswood and Ashton families forever burying the feud.

Ravenswood and Lucy enter into a secret engagement without the knowledge or consent of Lucy’s parents, both are sure the Ashton family will approve of the match…. but Lady Ashton, is another matter entirely. Lucy promises Ravenswood, that no matter what, she loves him and will keep her word to marry him.

But dark omens and prophecies threaten the love of Ravenswood and Lucy….the prophecy foretells that:

When the last Laird of Ravenswood to Ravenswood shall ride and woo a dead maiden to be his bride, He shall stable his steed in the Kelpie’s flow, And his name shall be lost for evermore!

Ravenswood doesn’t put much stock by the prophecy and rides to the Ashton residence, at Ravenswood Castle, where he plans on marrying Lucy and making his intentions known.

But when he arrives….he meets with one very angry mother. Lady Ashton returns to the estate and upon learning of the engagement between Ravenswood and Lucy….and expressly forbids it.

She refuses to give her consent for them to marry and more or less tells her husband, Lord Ashton, that he will do the same thing if he knows what’s good for him….and being afarid of this wife’s wrath….Lord Ashton agrees with her though he expresses his complications to Ravenswood he does not give consent for them to wed. In addition, Lady Ashton has brought with her, her own choice of suitor for Lucy, Lord Bucklaw.

Lucy reiterates her promise and love to Ravenswood and decided it would be best if he gave the Ashton family some time to accept their engagement, Ravenswood takes his leave to let things settle.

In the meantime, Lady Ashton plots to destroy the union and after a year and no word from Ravenswood (no thanks to interference from Lady Ashton)….Lucy has no choice but to acquiesce to her mother’s wishes. She is to break the engagement to Ravenswood and marry Bucklaw.

The decision to marry Bucklaw literally drives Lucy insane….her family has made her into a prisoner in her own house cutting her off from communication from any and all forms of possible communication from Ravenswood. Ravenswood in the mean time is withering away at not hearing from Lucy…fretting that she might break their engagement.

The tensions are running high in the Ashton family and with Lucy mad with grief…anything could happen. Beware the Ravenswood!

While this book is a model of the gothic tradition, it was not without difficultly that I read the novel. One of the classes I took for my BA was Writers of the British Isles and I’ll be honest, it was far from my favorite. Mostly because my interests in lit and history don’t lie in Ireland or Scotland…

Scott is a Scottish writer and thus his writing style reflected a lot of the political climate of the period (which I am very unfamiliar with) and Scottish social/religious traditions (which I am equally as unfamiliar with).

A large part of the novel was written in the Scottish lexicon and style to emulate the common tongue of the low-lands Scots. Many of the secondary characters (Caleb and Alice) were servants and their status was reflected in the use of the common Scottish language.

I had a REALLY hard time with the language! Having an abridged version or Cliff Notes on this book would have been useful but sadly I was left to my own devices and knowledge so that was frustrating at times!

Side note….if you get this book in Kindle format (like I did) the free version is poorly edited. There were lots of miss spelled words and errors which distracted from the novel immensely!

I also had a hard time understanding what was going on in why in regards to the social climate and politics that played a role in the story. I am very unfamiliar with the Jacobite history and politics of the era so needless to say I was out of my realm in many areas of this novel but at the same time, that is what made it so fun to read.

I enjoyed the humor that Caleb brought to the story….when I could understand his language and what he was doing I laughed out loud more than a few times! Alice and the witches were creepy and added a unique elements to the story. The ‘mad’ scene was true to gothic form and elegantly played….loved it!

I love all things that wither like the mist rolling off the moors and this book put me right in the thick of the billowing gothic mist! Overall this is a great story and a gothic classic to be sure…..this book beautifully illustrates the genre.

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: The Bride of Lammermoor by Sir Walter Scott

  • Kindle Edition
  • Published July 12th 2009 (first published 1819)
  • ASIN B002H9XDYM

This book counts toward: Why by the Cow Reading Challenge

Recommendation: 3.5 out of 5 (a classic gothic romance)

Genre: Literature, British Literature, Classic, Gothic Fiction

Memorable lines/quotes:

These feelings were mingles with fear; an impression useful to her purposes, so far as it enforced ready compliance with her requests and implicit obedience to her commands, but detrimental, because it cannot exist with affection or regard.

Beware the Ravenswood!

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