Document 1013

Review of "Voyageurs" (Margaret Elphinstone)

Author(s): Liz Niven

Copyright holder(s): Liz Niven


"Voyageurs" by Margaret Elphinstone Pub. Canongate £10.99 pp466

‘Voyageurs’ is Margaret Elphinstone’s seventh novel. It’s a fine story in weel kent classical mode; the quest o a brither seekin his sister in a faur aff and exotic lan, gey different fae his hame.

Mark is a Quaker fae Cumberland whae decides tae gan tae Canada tae fin his sister Rachel. She has merriet a Scotsman, Alan Mackenzie, bit she has suddenly disappearit intae the ‘uncharted wilderness’ in the unsettled regions o North America. The buik opens in the year 1812 an the reader embarks oan a lang journey wi Mark as he tracks across the muckle plains an sails up the rivers wi the canots du maitre.

The buik is a wunnerful portrait o Canada oan the verge o the Wars o Independence and in fact we fin oot as the plot unfolds, that Rachel’s husband is gey deeply involvit in the turmoils o the time.

The landscape and geography o Canada is intricately depictit and the novelist has researched her setting meticulously then portrayed it graphically.Wi a smatterin o the geography o Cumberlan we see the twa societies an landscapes juxtaposed in a nineteenth centurie time o Press Gangs an perilous sea journeys.

Alangside this picter o the fishermen an hunters o the North, trapping bear, dealin in furs, skillfully manouverin thir wey deep intae the territory o the Native Americans an this culture, ither complex themes are explorit.

Mark, the central character, fins himself oan a parallel quest; the exploration o his religious beliefs an cultural prejudices. Comin fae a religion similar in monie weys tae the Free Church o Scotland, nae singin, dauncin or general ‘frivolities’, Mark has tae examine his viewpoints. The adornments o hats o fur and beads an ribbons, the storytelling traditions o the Indians (still called this and no yet intae PC jargon), the smoking o pipes an the physical attractions o wimmen, all these delicht bit present him wi a quandary aboot how he views the world aroon him.

A must read fir awbodie wantin tae ken mair aboot the gowden lan o maple syrup an fearsome bears.

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APA Style:

Review of "Voyageurs" (Margaret Elphinstone). 2024. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 13 July 2024, from

MLA Style:

"Review of "Voyageurs" (Margaret Elphinstone)." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2024. Web. 13 July 2024.

Chicago Style

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech, s.v., "Review of "Voyageurs" (Margaret Elphinstone)," accessed 13 July 2024,

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The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. 2024. Glasgow: University of Glasgow.


Information about Document 1013

Review of "Voyageurs" (Margaret Elphinstone)


Text audience

Adults (18+)
General public
Informed lay people
Audience size 100+

Text details

Method of composition Wordprocessed
Word count 361

Text medium

Magazine (e-zine)

Text publication details

Publisher Lallans Magazine
Part of larger text
Contained in Lallans Magazine

Text setting


Text type



Author details

Author id 19
Forenames Liz
Surname Niven
Gender Female
Decade of birth 1950
Educational attainment University
Age left school 17
Occupation Writer
Place of birth Glasgow
Region of birth Glasgow
Birthplace CSD dialect area Gsw
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Dumfries
Region of residence E & Mid Dumfries
Residence CSD dialect area Dmf
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Gardener
Father's place of birth Glasgow
Father's region of birth Glasgow
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Gsw
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Seamstress
Mother's place of birth Glasgow
Mother's region of birth Glasgow
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Gsw
Mother's country of birth Scotland


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes Work / home
French Yes Yes Yes Yes With French people / films
Scots Yes Yes Yes Yes Work / home