From the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Sealwoman’s Gift

You have to remember she was a Lowlander, born and bred in a city. What did she know about matters that Highlanders drink in with their mothers’ milk? She thought they were no more than a quaint thing to read about in those fancy books that brought tourists to ooh and ah at the landscape o’ the Trossachs. There she came all innocent, with her parasol a-twirl and a background that had bred her useless. Broken inside, though. Awful broken. A woman like that has no defences.

Loch Katrine waterworks, 1856. A Highland wilderness fast becoming an industrial wasteland. No place for a lady. But Isabel Aird, denied the motherhood role that society expects of her by a succession of miscarriages, is comforted by a place where she can feel the presence of her lost children and begin to work out what her life is for.

No matter that the hills echo with the gunpowder blasts of men tunnelling day and night to bring fresh water to diseased Glasgow thirty miles away – digging so deep that there are those who worry they are disturbing the land of faery itself.

New life is quickening within her again. While her husband is engaged with the medical emergencies of the construction site, Isabel can only wait .But someone else is waiting too. The man in the dark coat, watching for the right moment with a huntsman’s eye . . .

By turns spellbinding and heart-pounding, The Ninth Child is set at a pivotal time in the Victorian era, when engineering innovation and new ideas flourished but women did not. Through the dual lens of history and folklore it captures a woman’s struggle to make her life matter, and a compromised man’s struggle with himself.

Sally Magnusson (c) Derek Prescott

Bestselling author Sally Magnusson lives just outside Glasgow, and has long been fascinated by the astonishing engineering feat of the Loch Katrine waterworks and, in an area full of fairy place names, by the way that myth and legend are juxtaposed with the solid reality of modern progress.

The Ninth Child is partly inspired by Sally’s great-grandmother, Annie McEchern, who in 1863 left the isle of Mull aged thirteen, bound for Glasgow to seek work. And there are echoes of Sally’s own beloved mother’s voice – familiar to many readers from Sally’s acclaimed memoir Where Memories Go, which also tells the story of her ancestors’ eviction from their croft on Mull during the Highland Clearances.

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