As you may have noticed, historical fiction based on real people’s lives is a bit of a thing for me at the moment. That’s why i turned to Mr. Mac and Me by Esther Freud. Before moving to Scotland I’m not sure if a novel about architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh would have interested me, but here is Scotland, Glasgow in particular, he is a bit of a hero.
I didn’t know anything about the novel before digging in, so I must say it came as a bit of disappointment to me that the bulk of Mr. Mac and Me is more about the titular Me than Mr. Mac. I was hoping for an entertaining overview of Mackintosh’s life, instead I was given a glimpse into Macintosh’s brief escape to the Southeast coast of England right around the time of the outbreak of World War One.
In spite of the fact that most of the story revolves around Tom Maggs and the travails of his impoverished family, I did learn some startling things about CRM.
- As much as he is revered today in Scotland, he was not all that successful during his own lifetime. This struggle is made clear in Mr. Mac and Me.
- The tall, stylized women I have always associated with CRM are, in fact, by his wife, Margaret MacDonald Macintosh.
- CRM was thought to be a spy during WWI and was rather harassed for it.
Who would like this book? Though fans of CRM may like this book, I would be more inclined to recommend it to those who are looking for an English pastoral novel set in the 1910s. As I mentioned, Mr Mac is really a secondary character and the novel’s heart lies with Maggs family and their village pub.