Scottish poet Robert Burns lived from 1759 to 1796, and during his short life wrote songs and poems still treasured today, like “Auld Lang Syne,” “My Luve Is Like a Red, Red Rose,” and “To a Mouse.” The Witching Voice covers the crucial years from 1784 to 1788, when he rose from poverty and obscurity as an Ayrshire farmer to nationwide acclaim and lionization by the aristocracy of Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital and a bastion of the European Enlightenment.
January 25, 2009, will mark the 250th anniversary of Burns’s birth, to be marked by worldwide celebrations of his life and work. But The Witching Voice, though based on thorough research, doesn't merely romanticize Burns or idolize him as many of his admirers do; it aims at offering a clear picture of his gifts, his charms, his demons, and his shortcomings. Above all, it’s an absorbing story built on compelling conflict, with a protagonist striving against the odds of obscure birth and a stratified class system. Peopled by a lively and memorable array of historical characters, the novel captures the flavor of Burns’ work, his turbulent social and romantic life, his struggles to escape poverty, his frustration with a class system that set more store by ancestry than ability, and his bitterly comic encounters with moral and religious hypocrisy. Enhanced by generous excerpts from Burns’ finest songs and poems, The Witching Voice makes clear why his life and work still fascinate readers around the world.