Paperback review: The Last Highlander, By Sarah Fraser


Sarah Fraser's rich and readable book tells the story of Lord Lovat, the clan chief who supported Bonnie Prince Charlie's rebellion against the crown in 1745.

Lovat was executed for his act of treason, but he was no straightforward martyr for the Jacobite cause. His allegiances shifted throughout his life, as he shuttled between the Highlands, London, and the Continent, forming and reforming pacts with Catholics and Protestants, English and Scots. Fraser's is a shrewd, balanced account told with a keen eye for detail – which makes it all the more surprising that she misattributes to Shakespeare the line: "O what a tangled web we weave/ When first we practise to deceive". The author of those words was, in fact, Sir Walter Scott – who, very much like Lovat, was caught between Jacobite and Hanoverian sympathies.