Uisge Beatha in Gaelic literally means ‘water of life’. The Water of Life is an engrossing piece of work that will hold your interest all along. When I read the excerpt I wasn’t very sure what this book was going to be about. I certainly did not want to read a diatribe on the whisky making process, or a harangue on why Scotch was the best whisky, for example. But the book totally surprised me, pleasantly.
Before I try to talk about this book, I will say this. There is no way you can be neutral to it. you will either like it or hate it. But there is so much going on that at least some part of it will appeal to your interest. Actually, it will hold you enthralled.
If learning the history of whisky is why you want to read this book, don’t worry. There is a lot of it, but it is in story form and woven throughout the book. If you want a historical mystery, you will certainly find one here. And also a contemporary one.
One of the things I found hardest while reading this book was the multiple timelines. There is not just one or two but ‘mutiple’ timelines here. Many of the characters have similar names, so that adds to the confusion. But this is also what keeps the story interesting. I read this book on the Kindle, so maybe it was tougher. I think it is easier to flip back pages to ‘revise’ something with a paper book than in digital format.
Elizabeth Legrand has a heavy legacy. She is one of the few residents of Georgian Bay, a small island community somehree in Northern Canada. She finds an old stash of Scotch in her house and decides to produce it. She wants to create new blends using the ancient Glen Dubh that she has come across. She ropes in some supporters and embarks on what is supposed to be a mad venture. We spiral back several centuries in time to the first days of the Glen Dubh and the Fearmor clan that created it.
The narrative goes back and forth between many centuries ago, the 20th century, the present and somewhere in between. It all comes together in a crescendo when you finally learn how an ancient Scotch ended up in Canada. Will the new blend be successful? Or will a dreaded curse result in doom for the whole community.
Is Elizabeth Legrand touched in the head? Or is she just passionate about her work and life’s mission. The Water of Life is a good, good read for anyone who loves a good story. And it is definitely worth a read once.
And by the way, yes, you will learn a lot about whisky and single malts and blends and all that.