Wednesday, 13 June 2012
The Democrat - Olly Wyatt
Title: The Democrat
Author: Olly Wyatt
Genre: Historical Fiction
As a Scottish person who went to school in England, I received very little information on the history of Scotland beyond the main points such as Bannockburn, etc. However, as an adult I have done my own reading and tried to widen my knowledge of the events and people that shaped the country of my birth. Therefore, when I was give the chance to read "The Democrat" by Olly Wyatt which follows the life of Thomas Muir, a relatively unknown Scottish advocate whose life was dedicated to reform and progress, I couldn't help but put it at the top of my reading list.
Muir's life really is an adventure in itself which takes him from practising law in courts of Edinburgh to exile in far flung places such as Australia & America. However, throughout his entire journey, he holds on firmly to his beliefs and hopes that he could do something to help improve the lives and freedoms of those who remained behind in his homeland.
I didn't really know anything about Muir before picking up this book so I was pleasantly surprised to see how varied and interesting his life actually was. Wyatt seems to have thoroughly researched the various events that occurred and has done a good job in dramatising them in an enjoyable and at times, quite thrilling manner. In particular, Muir's travel upon a transport ship to Australia was quite memorable, and Wyatt could probably have written an enjoyable and entertaining novel just around this one element of the story.
In addition, I was quite impressed at the way Wyatt still managed to ensure that Muir's beliefs and passions in regards to reform and people's rights still came across. He even managed to do it with a narrative that actually felt like it belonged in the same period that the events were occurring. I will admit that all of this did cause the novel to sometimes feel a bit academic at times which caused the pace to slow. This was especially so in the earlier parts of the novel but I think it conspired with the more adventurous elements to create a story that I found quite moving in parts.
Overall, I found this to be an interesting story that does a superb job in portraying the life of a man who should be remembered fondly for what he stood for. I particularly found that Wyatt has done a great job in trying to dramatise the factual events and has even included some well known historical figures in a realistic and believable manner. I think that this book is well worth considering for any fans of the historical fiction genre, especially those who like to read about the lesser known heroes of our past.