Their exchange about one book on Beaton's list:
What about Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson?Read about Beaton's other picks.
Being Scottish, it’s one I can read again and again. I think the difference between the Lowland Scot and the Highlander is really brought out between Alan Breck and David Balfour. It’s very well written, very well done – and I think Robert Louis Stevenson has great charm. He’s very hard on marriage, you know. He seems to be rather sour about marriage, but not in this book.
Isn’t it more of a teenage book?
I suppose it would be, but it still captures my heart – particularly as I write about the Highlands in the Hamish Macbeth stories. The fact that he’s captured the character of the Highlander – which is still a different creature to the Lowland Scot.
Are you a Highlander yourself?
No, I’m not: I was born in Glasgow. We had a croft in the North of Scotland, up in Hamish Macbeth country for a short time. It’s wonderful countryside, a marvellous setting for a murder. The wind just screams from horizon to horizon – it’s like living in a speeded-up nature film. You open up the kitchen door and catch a passing sheep… So that is the attraction of Kidnapped.
When did you read it?
I read it when I was in my teens, of course. I read it again about five years ago, and it still charmed me. It’s the same with Through the Looking Glass, though I haven’t put that down as one of my choices. I think it’s simply because of having lived in the Highlands, and my husband having sheep in the Highlands, and having fallen in love with the better side of the Highland character.
Kidnapped also appears on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best wicked uncles in literature, ten of the best misers in literature, ten of the best shipwrecks, and ten of the best towers in literature.