The Far Side of the Loch by Melissa Wiley

The Far Side of the Loch, by Melissa Wiley, was published in 2000 by HarperCollins. It is the sequel to Little House in the Highlands.

In The Far Side of Loch seven-year-old Martha is lonely and restless. The Stone House was filled with people during the holidays, but now the cousins have gone home, Martha’s father is traveling, her brothers are at school, and her older sister, Grisie, is too busy brooding over her embroidery to pay any attention to Martha. Her new pet hedgehog makes things a bit more fun, and then Father comes home with some thrilling news and suddenly Martha’s house is bustling with excitement!

Rating: 3/5

The prequels to the Little House books can tend to be devoid of the charm that made Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books so popular. Unfortunately, that’s true of the Martha Years in general. While Little House in the Highlands was interesting in its look into Scottish life, it didn’t have a whole lot of appeal to carry over to this next book, The Far Side of the Loch.

Wiley continues to give insight into Scotland with this book, but the simplistic writing and basic emotional insights let it down. I mean, I didn’t hate the book, but I didn’t love it, either (my favorite of the Martha Years is actually the next book, Down to the Bonny Glen, which has lots of character growth for Martha in it). The most interesting part of the book was seeing the contrast between city and country life and the exploration of homesickness and family.

I did find it very clever, or perhaps cheeky, of Wiley to include the tale of “The Laird’s Lass and the Smith’s Son.” Wiley delves into this slightly in later books, before Harper sadly cut off the prequels before she could get to the actual romance, but Martha Tucker in real life married the son of a blacksmith. The tale told in this book has a slightly happier ending in terms of family than does Martha’s, though—since Martha married significantly beneath her, her family basically cut her off. I think there’s a mention of her brother in the sequel to this series (about Martha’s daughter and Laura’s grandmother, Charlotte), but other than that, she pretty much leaves Scotland and never sees her family again (that is–if this book is historically accurate). That’s part of the reason why I found the focus on family in this book to be so interesting.

If you liked the first book in the Martha Years, The Far Side of the Loch is more of the same. It doesn’t build a whole lot on the first book, nor does it have particularly complex themes or insights. It does play on the idea of “home is where the heart is,” as well as the conflict between city and country life and other things that are interesting in light of what happens to the real Martha Tucker. Children will probably like this book if they enjoyed the first one, but it lacks a little something for an older audience.

Recommended Age Range: 8+

Warnings: None.

Genre: Children’s, Historical Fiction

You can buy this book here: https://amzn.to/2zVHS3v

One thought on “The Far Side of the Loch by Melissa Wiley

  1. Pingback: Down to the Bonny Glen by Melissa Wiley | Leaf's Reviews

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