Nairn in Darkness and Light

When James VI of Scotland became James I of England he boasted that in his home country there was a town with a street so long that the residents at one end of it couldn’t understand those at the other. He was referring to Nairn, at that time divided into two communities, one Gaelic-speaking, the other Scots. By the 1920s, when David Thomson was growing up there, the town was still divided, but by class rather than language. His meticulous recreation of early 20th century Nairn, with its vivid cameos of crofters, fishermen and wealthy townsfolk, won the NCR Book Award in 1988, has been described as Proustian, in tone if not in scale.

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