This is the cover illustration, by Kate Baylay, for the book My Friends the Miss Boyds by Jane Duncan. That's an author whose name meant nothing to me, but on looking at the biographical note inside this very attractive edition, published last year by Millrace Books to celebrate the centenary of Jane Duncan's birth (you can read the note here) I discover that "[she] made publishing history in the late 1950s when, as an unknown Scottish writer, she had a sequence of seven novels accepted by Macmillan. She had written them secretly while living in Jamaica, hiding the manuscripts in her linen cupboard"!
With the publication of My Friends the Miss Boyds, the first of what turned out to be an internationally successful series, Jane Duncan found herself at the centre of media attention. From her home up in the Black Isle, a peninsula in Ross and Cromarty in the north-east of Scotland, she wrote many more books, and her attachment to the area was such that they were firmly rooted in her own life and experience there.
Ross-shire is home to my mother's family (they are from the next peninsula up the coast) so I'm particularly interested to read this novel which is set in the Black Isle: "Into this small, self-reliant society towards the end of the First World War come the Miss Boyds, silly, would-be sophisticated outsiders from Inverness. Their disruptive effect foretokens a wider impact on the rural way of life as war is followed by economic depression."
"An enchanting novel ... sharp and sometimes poignant", said The Times on first publication; "Full of vitality ... the humorous incidents, piling one on top of another, carry themselves along in a thoroughly enjoyable way", said The Observer.
I'll let you know how I get on with it, but meanwhile there is more on Jane Duncan here.