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Short & Long Form Book Descriptions (click to download)

Short form…

Ex-pat Scot Aefa Mulholland travels around the US, persuading bemused Americans to teach her how to things considered stereotypically Scottish, but that she never learned to do growing up in Scotland. She tries Scottish country dancing in Honolulu, makes a stab at playing bagpipes in New Orleans and attempts golf for the first time on a rattlesnake-infested desert course in Arizona—and learns what it means to be Scottish, what it means to be Scottish-American and what it means to be at home such a long way from home.

Long form…

When she moved from Scotland to America, Aefa Mulholland had never gone to a Highland Games, spoken Scottish Gaelic or played golf. Or worn a kilt or feather bonnet. Or thought about swapping the grumpy old tabby for a Scottie dog, gone Nessie-spotting or played bagpipes. Or done so many things so often expected of Scots overseas. Growing up in Glasgow was entertaining, but her antics and outfits tended not to feature tartan or have a bagpipe soundtrack. Aefa’s Scotland was grittier. It was down-to-earth. It threw pizzas into deep-fat fryers. And she never felt it lacking… until now, 20 years later, when she realises that she’s been away so long that her Scottishness is fading.

She sets out immediately to shore up her Scottishness, facing her fear of bagpipes and dread of organised social dancing as she travels from Florida to Washington State, New York City to Honolulu, meeting the kind, the compelling and the kooky characters that inhabit America.

She struggles through a Gaelic immersion weekend on a ranch full of cats in Texas, attempts Scottish country dancing in Honolulu, plays golf on a rattlesnake-infested sand course in Arizona and is bemused by proliferations of cloaks and dragon puppets at her first Highland Games in Oregon. She visits Chicago’s Scottish Retirement Home to learn secrets of ‘The Scottish Way,’ has tea with Hawaii’s freshly elected Scot of the Year and is as confused as the passing New Yorkers by the Tartan Day parade. She catches caber tosses, Scotch tastings and sheepdog demonstrations from the Pacific to the Mississippi, tries to claim Elvis for the Scots and finds herself deep in backwoods Georgia with a hundred Scottie dogs.

Everywhere she goes, she is met with warmth and kindness—and by puzzled Americans, confused as to why a Scottish-born Scot can’t recognise her clan colours or muster even a ‘Good Morning’ in Gaelic.

From the early days of the quest till its final steps, Aefa explores what it means to be Scottish, what it means to be Scottish-American and what it means to be at home so far away from home.


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