‘The Oatmeal Ark: From the Scottish Isles to a Promised Land’

‘We met, my great-grandson and I, more than a century after my death.’

…so opens ‘The Oatmeal Ark’. My second book is a wave-rocked, wind-tossed adventure story which reaches from Scotland to Nova Scotia, across Canada by water, and through three generations of extraordinary family history. It weaves ghostly invention through true stories, stitching imaginary characters into real events, to unravel Canada’s epic history. It traces the dreams of the courageous men and women who left Scotland – and England, Ireland and all of Europe – in the hope of building a better world overseas.

Travel with me and my forefathers – the minister-mariner, paddle-wheel publisher and boat-building broadcaster – across the world’s second-largest country. Seek out earthly Paradise! Canoe through the lonely majesty of the northern woods! Cross the Prairies with a wild Newfoundlander in an inflatable dinghy and a submarine! And discover the history of a divided nation whose parts have grown greater than its whole.

‘The Oatmeal Ark’ was nominated for 1999 International IMPAC Dublin Literary award and read on BBC Radio Scotland. In 2008 it is republished with a new introduction by Jan Morris.

‘One of the most original and innovative travel books for years.’ – Alexander Frater, Observer

‘A fabulous adventure story, wise, witty and never self-indulgent, as if Jack London had – in a fit of absent-mindedness – joined forces with Jane Austen.’ – Alberto Manguel

‘a truly astonishing performance’ – Jan Morris

‘Such a book as this rather marvellously explains why literature still lives.’ – John Fowles, Spectator

‘The Oatmeal Ark’ is republished by Tauris Parke in 2008. It was first published by HarperCollins UK and Canada in 1997.