Born of mixed Highland and Lowland parentage and brought up in Ayrshire, Alistair Mair was a medical student at Glasgow University in the 1940s. After graduation he worked for a year in a Glasgow hospital and spent two years in the R. A. F., mainly as a pathologist in the Tropical Medicine Unit. Two more years in hospitals after demobilization were followed by a long journey to China and Japan as ship’s surgeon. He married a girl from Melbourne and with her he returned to Scotland where he set up in general practice. During the next ten years of unremitting work as a doctor he began to publish his first books, and a son and daughter were born to the Mairs. Late in 1962 he decided to make writing a full time occupation and went with his family to live in an Argyllshire village.
Rue With A Difference (1955)
The Douglas Affair (1966)
Yesterday Was Summer (1968)
Where The East Wind Blows (1972)
Turning Point (1974)
The Devil’s Minister (1961)
The Man Within (1959)
The Seventeenth Laird (1957)
Diana and the Wise Man (1957)
The Ripening Time (1970)
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Hugh Collins, a restless socio-anthropologist whose researches had taken him to many strange places, decided that the time to settle down in the northwest of Scotland, in the country he had known and loved as a boy. One night, on board ship off the African coast, a man died a very peculiar death. This death was unexplained then, and might have re-examined so, had his young cousin Bill never met the Minister’s daughter. But this meeting, although it almost cost Bill his life, led to the discovery of many strange things in a community held silent by fear and superstition. In this book, the dramatic power of the story is tremendously heightened by the contrasting tranquillity and beauty of the Scottish scene, of which Alistair Mair writes with his customary skill and affection.
YESTERDAY WAS SUMMER
A doctor in a small town in Scotland, Peter Ashe has been exploited by his senior partner for seventeen years. When, suddenly, the older man dies Peter and his wife Elizabeth welcome their chance to enjoy life with their two children like any other family.
But the arrival of Jacky Carstairs and her sister Anne introduces new and unexpected complications. With Jacky, Peter establishes a curiously delicate relationship which goes beyond the strange intimacy of doctor and patient in the face of death. His attachment to Anne is an extension of this bond; and it also brings home to him the truth that he has reached middle age.
Elizabeth understands her husband’s dilemma but cannot help him; their children, young adults determined to break the restraints of childhood, stretch their parents’ tolerance to the limit. As the tension within the Ashe family mounts to near tragedy, the human demands of the close-knit community are told with great sympathy and skill.
Published: BLOOMSBURY READER, 11th March 2013
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THE RIPENING TIME — Buy it here
The Ripening Time – revised and adapted by Catherine MacLeod from the original novel by Alistair Mair, first published by William Heinemann in 1970. Released in paperback as The Tomato Man, 1972.
Glasgow, 1960. A time of bright new beginnings … The Gorbals tenements are being demolished and gleaming new estates are carving their way through the green fields that surround the city. Tom, raised in a Glasgow tenement, is a sheltered, self-contained lad who drifts through life while his widowed mother worries about his inability to find the right girl. Then Mary from the new Easterton estate takes him in hand. Surrounded by all the sparkling new appliances of hire-purchase matrimony, the recession begins to bite. Long hours, loneliness and cruelty lead Tom to drift off in another direction, down the garden to the safe haven of his greenhouse. A man needs a hobby, and surely gardening never hurt a soul …