Fair Helen

Fair Helen A veritable account of Fair Helen of Kirkconnel Lea scrieved by Harry Langton Harry Langton is called back to the country of his childhood to aid an old friend Adam Fleming who believes his life is

  • Title: Fair Helen
  • Author: Andrew Greig
  • ISBN: 9780857381910
  • Page: 240
  • Format: Hardcover
  • A veritable account of Fair Helen of Kirkconnel Lea, scrieved by Harry Langton.Harry Langton is called back to the country of his childhood to aid an old friend, Adam Fleming, who believes his life is in danger He s fallen for Helen of Annandale and, in turn, fallen foul of his rival, Robert Bell a man as violent as he is influential In an ungovernable land where minorA veritable account of Fair Helen of Kirkconnel Lea, scrieved by Harry Langton.Harry Langton is called back to the country of his childhood to aid an old friend, Adam Fleming, who believes his life is in danger He s fallen for Helen of Annandale and, in turn, fallen foul of his rival, Robert Bell a man as violent as he is influential In an ungovernable land where minor lairds vie to rule and blood feuds are settled by the sword, Fleming faces a battle to win Helen, and to stay alive.Entrusted as guard to the lovers secret trysts, Langton is thrust into the middle of a dangerous triangle and soon discovers Helen is not so chaste as she is fair But Langton has his own secrets to keep and other masters to serve Someone has noticed his connections, and recruited him in their bid to control the hierarchy of the Border families someone who would use lovers as pawns in the serious game of power and dynastic supremacy.Striking like a sword into the extraordinary history of the Borderlands, Greig s vital prose renders the Border Ballad Fair Helen of Kirkconnel Lea as a breathless romance, a stirring adventure, and a memento mori Gutsy, atmospheric and wry as ever, he shines a candle light on the dark days of a lawless land, and the real woman behind the legend often called the Scottish Romeo Juliet Here it is brilliantly re presented as the source of an equally famed, complex drama.

    • Fair Helen by Andrew Greig
      240 Andrew Greig
    • thumbnail Title: Fair Helen by Andrew Greig
      Posted by:Andrew Greig
      Published :2019-06-09T20:49:28+00:00


    About “Andrew Greig

    • Andrew Greig

      Andrew Greig is a Scottish writer who grew up in Anstruther, Fife He studied philosophy at the University of Edinburgh and is a former Glasgow University Writing Fellow and Scottish Arts Council Scottish Canadian Exchange Fellow He lives in Orkney and Edinburgh and is married to author Lesley Glaister.



    832 thoughts on “Fair Helen

    • A beautifully realised historical novel, written with a poet’s feeling for language, inspired by the Border ballad Fair Helen of Kirkconnel Lea. The author has immersed himself in Border lore – both the ballad tradition and the real history behind it – and this is a splendid evocation of the ‘end days’ of the Riding Times. Andrew Greig’s ‘reimagining’ of the famous ballad is set on the Scottish side of the Border, with occasional forays into ‘Embra’ and further afield, during [...]


    • SPOILERS(ISH)!!!I wish I were where Helen lies!Night and day on me she cries;O that I were where Helen lies,On fair Kirconnell Lee!Curst be the heart, that thought the thought,And curst the hand, that fired the shot,When in my arms burd Helen dropt,And died to succour me!O think na ye my heart was sair,When my love dropt down and spak nae mair!There did she swoon wi' meikle care,On fair Kirconnell Lee. *******I wish my grave were growing green,A winding sheet drawn ower my een,And I in Helen's a [...]


    • The author has immersed himself in his subject beautifully written, a little hard to read, but the accomplishment of the author's pen is worthy of so much praise. If you love Scottish lore and poetry. If you love the feel of the romantic scottish poets Then this is a tremendous read. But beware the glossary becomes your best friend if you're not a scholar in archaic Scots. Best read in paper form, because of it.


    • This is a wonderful book. I was a it anxious at the start that it would be a sad and miserable tale, the ballad after all begins the book but it was so much more than a simple, tragic love story. A Borderer at heart but now living in the Highlands it managed to make me homesick despite the wildness of the Borderlands at the end of the 16th century. Other reviewers have remarked on the archaic Scots dialect but I don't think many modern Borderers would have use of the glossary.It was a difficult [...]


    • Andrew Greig's Fair Helen has got his inspiration from ancient ballad about Helen Irving, a young woman, who lived in sixteenth century. The story is "written" by Helen's cousin Harry Langton - blacksmith's son, scribe, translator and fugitive.Harry who has sent to live with his aunt after the death of his parents, has grown up with Helen. They are like siblings, but Helen is also Harry's best friend. Harry has another dear friend, Adam Fleming, with whom he met in university.When Adam invites H [...]


    • An enjoyable tale of love, intrigue and feud set in the late 16th century Scottish Borders, a notoriously lawless time and place. The (fictional)story is inspired by a well-known Border Ballad, "Fair Helen of Kirkconnel" and is told from the perspective of a friend of one the lady's two rival suitors, writing 40 or 50 years after the events took place. The standard of writing is well above that of most historical novels, and the author keeps the tension racked up as the protagonists struggle to [...]


    • Greig takes the medieval Scottish folk ballad as his inspiration and weaves a fictionalised account of Fair Helen. Told from the point of view of Helen's cousin Harry, we learn the tale of the doomed lovers said to be the Scottish Romeo & Juliet. The Scots language used throughout took some getting used to and the glossary didn't explain all but the story was easy enough to understand and become involved with. Enjoyed this more than I thought I would.


    • Beautifully written, but didn't quite come together at a book/story level the way it shone at a word/sentence/paragraph/vignette level -- like pearls strung at a slightly oddly spaced distances.


    • Our narrator is poor scholar, Herny Langdon, who is called to the wild border country in 1590 to help a friend in need. Adam Fleming was his closest friend and is now in fear of his life. Adam has fallen in love with Helen, a renowned beauty, but he is not the only one seeking her affections. This is a wild and dangerous land, there are bandits and raiding parties, divided loyalties and a lot of border politics. It is an atmospheric and passionate historical read. The language – a potent anglo [...]


    • Love, scheming, Scotland - all the components were there but the old English (Scottish?) made reading it a bit of a push! There was a glossary at the back but reading it with a kindle made it tricky to flip back and forth. I told my dad (who highly recommended it to me) that I enjoyed the love story bits of it but the clan politics not as much and he said that he felt the opposite.


    • This was a bit hard to get into, due to the Scots dialect and the confusing names, but once I caught on I really enjoyed it.


    • I adored this book. It's thick with beautiful descriptions and fantastic Scottish language and dialect. The book's inspiration and characters come from the Scottish ballad Fair Helen of Kirkconnel Lea and follows the life of a witness and key player of the tragic romance. Despite this, I didn't find the book maudlin or depressive, which I was a touch worried about. It's set in medieval Scotland - with 'James Sax' (James VI) and the 'Auld Hag' (Elizabeth I) - a period I love but know very little [...]


    • In the late 16th century, Harry Langdon returns home to the Scottish Borders to aid Adam Fleming, his distressed best friend. Adam is in love with Harry’s cousin, Helen Irvine, although she is betrothed, as arranged by the families, to a notorious hoodlum, ‘heidsman’ Robert Bell. Helen dearly loves Adam, and he requests Harry to stand guard against Robert’s henchmen during the lovers’ nocturnal trysts. Nevertheless, Harry hides secrets of his own, for he is a spy for Laird Branxholme, [...]


    • Fair Helen is a fictional and historical romance or perhaps best labeled fable. Written as a first-hand account of Harry Langston, friend of Adam Fleming, this wonderful story gives the “true” story of the old Scottish song or legend of Fair Helen of Kirkconnel Lea.This is the story of star-crossed lovers, of political intrigue, the plight of women who had to marry for family and wealth versus love. Told in the lilting tongue of an old Scottish scriber, I found it easy to understand the gist [...]


    • For lovers of all things Scottish, this novel grown around a tragic love ballad set in the 16th century is told by a now-aged friend who saw it all happen. As a young man, he is drawn into wider political machinations during the reign of James I/VI of Scotland (“Jamie Saxt”) and his calculating courtiers, made to spy on the two he loves best. As his health declines, our old scrivener tries to record more deeply what the ballad merely romanticizes--what is lost. A final twist in his personal [...]


    • "I quickly fell under the author's spell, and the magic of Greig's writing pulled me into the time and place completely. His lush prose vividly sets the scene, not only depicting the atmosphere of the Borderlands but expertly conveying the history of the time period without making it feel like a historical treatise. Readers should be aware that in spite of its romantic foundation, Fair Helen isn't a romance. The book will appeal most to historical fiction fans who delight in well-written narrati [...]


    • The song “Fair Helen of Kirkconnel” was first recorded in the early 1800s by Walter Scott, who included some of the story behind the ballad. Andrew Grieg colors in the rest of the story with his novel, Fair Helen. Harry Langton tells us at the beginning of Fair Helen that he’s going to tell us the real story behind the ballad, the star-crossed love story, and the politics of the Scottish Borderlands at the end of the sixteenth centuryRead my full review at A Bookish Type. I received a free [...]


    • This is a breathtakingly beautiful retelling of the Border Ballad, Fair Helen of Kirkconnel Lea. It is a tale of thwarted love, family rivalries, blood feud and political scheming in the years before James the Sixth united the two thrones of Scotland and England, and put an end to the lawlessness of the Scottish Borders. But it is more than that, because Andrew Greig writes with a majestic poetry of language that few writers can equal. This is a book that will command your attention throughout.


    • An historical novel looking at the plot of a short, medieval Borders ballad and fleshing it out. The world created by poet Andrew Greig feels, smells and tastes authentic. The petty disputes and life and death squabbles are played out in authentic detail and dialect. A great book which I read to get a flavour of 16th century Scotland before going to see the National Theatre of Scotland plays on King James, I, II and III. To some extent the book conjured up the era so well that it overshadowed th [...]


    • O Helen fair, beyond compare!I'll make a garland of thy hair,Shall bind my heart for evermair,Until the day I die.What a great historical adventure piece drawn from the tragic story of the Border lovers immortalised in song Fair Helen of KirkconnellIt’s written using many auld Scots words (a helpful glossary at the end) in an attempt to convey the language of the day, which sort of works.A good 3.5.


    • Having never read anything Andrew Greig before I was delighted to get this from my book group, and it certainly did not disappoint. Beautifully written the language cleverly depicted The Scottish Borders in the 1590s, not a time I would have wanted to live in. Based on a Scottish ballad I simply had to keep on reading to see how the love triangle ended and, perhaps more importantly to me, to see how the narrator lost his hand. Will definitely read more by this author.


    • Without doubt one of the best books I've read this year. As Andrew Greig has to be one of the finest poetic novelists I've ever read.Set in Scotland's 1590's but with characters as alive as today and with so many, many phrases that made me catch my breath at the sheer joy of them. There is tension and drama and love and language - wonderful indeed. A book to be re-read soon.And fans of Dorothy Dunnett or Emma Darwin should certainly see this one out, as a starting point.


    • Andrew Greig is a very versatile writer, covering a wide range of styles and genres. This book delves deeply into the folklore of the Scottish border country. Loosely a reimagining of the story of the ballad "Fair Helen of Kirkconnel Lea", the book immerses the reader in a bloodthirsty, romantic and richly imagined world. Have to admit (as a Sassenach) that I found the glossary of Lowland Scots words useful.


    • Written in beautiful poetic scots language, Andrew Greig takes the old borders ballad and weaves it into a vivid picture of the reivers, rivalries and machinations of the violent era before the Union of the Crowns. A great pleasure to read, which is back on my shelf to be re-read at a future date. One of his best books yet, it shows his skill, intellect and maturity. Brilliant!


    • This was a book group choice. I found it difficult to read on Kindle as the story lines are quite complex with many characters and clans. Also, it includes a glossary which is fiddly to access electronically. It is well-written and keeps one's attention although I don't rate it as a favourite read.


    • The setting is the Scottish Borders where life is never simple and there is constant fighting between rival families. The tale is based on a Border ballad - Fair Helen of Kirkconnel. Greig is a talented writer, no matter what the subject matter is.


    • Wonderfully detailed time-travel; I almost didn't need the nicely-controlled thriller plot, as the world evoked was so plausible, so complete. The rich language throughout is practically a character in itself, wise and poetic and witty. A real treat of a novel.


    • Beautifully written. Interesting historically. Not an unfamiliar scenario the best friend witness to an intense love. Good read.




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