Cover image for The piper's tune
The piper's tune
Stirling, Jessica.
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 2002.

Physical Description:
vi, 486 pages ; 22 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


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Jessica Stirling's Glasgow comes to scintillating life in a story of love and fortune set in Edwardian Scotland.

Lindsay Franklin's life is an adventure she has just begun to enjoy. At eighteen, Arthur Franklin's cosseted daughter has left her Glasgow school and finds her role as a marriageable young lady with a widowed father more than agreeable. And the source of her family's wealth, the Franklins' shipbuilding yard on Clydeside, is prospering as the long peace of Queen Victoria's reign gives way to the feverish arms race of the new century.

But Lindsay's life takes an unexpected turn when she is given a share of the family business. Equally unexpected is the appearance of Forbes McCullough, her charming Irish cousin whose attentions she secretly welcomes. To everyone's surprise, Lindsay decides to master the family business as carefully as her male cousins. What is not surprising is that several eligible men have decided that it is time to master Lindsay.

As the mysteries of shipbuilding open to her, and the puzzle of male behavior becomes both more fascinating and more dangerous, Lindsay is forced to make some fateful decisions.

Author Notes

Hugh C. Rae was born on November 22, 1935 in Glasgow, Scotland. After graduating from secondary school, he worked as an assistant in the antiquarian department of John Smith's bookshop. His first novel, Skinner, was published in 1963. He wrote several novels using his name including Night Pillow, A Few Small Bones, The Interview, The Shooting Gallery, The Marksman, and Harkfast: The Making of a King. He also wrote as Robert Crawford, R. B. Houston, James Albany, and Stuart Stern.

Using the pseudonym Jessica Stirling, he wrote more than 30 historical romances. He wrote the first few novels with Peggie Coghlan. However, when she retired 7 years after the first book was published, he wrote the remainder on his own. The books written under this pseudonym include The Spoiled Earth, The Constant Star, Hearts of Gold, and Whatever Happened to Molly Bloom. He died on September 24, 2014 at the age of 78.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The role of the upper-middle-class woman in Glasgow, Scotland, at the turn of the century is narrowly defined, and 18-year-old Lindsay Franklin's only release comes when she is given a share in the family's shipbuilding business. She starts to attend meetings and finds herself surprisingly interested in the company and her newfound younger cousin from Ireland, Forbes McCullough. A handsome rogue, he pits Lindsay against her equally smitten cousin, Cissie. She senses that there's something a little off about him, but he's very attractive and her grandfather seems to approve, so, in spite of her misgivings, she becomes engaged. Forbes is a scoundrel who genuinely likes Lindsay but wants her for mercenary reasons. They marry, but has Lindsay found love and contentment or does she have to look elsewhere? Stirling brings the Edwardian age to life through her depiction of everyday lives, enhancing the reader's sympathetic response to her characters' hopes and aspirations. Patty Engelmann.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Glasgow-born Stirling (Prized Possessions) brings Edwardian Scotland to life in this compelling coming-of-age tale. Eighteen-year-old Lindsay Franklin gets an unexpected jolt when her shipbuilding magnate grandfather gives her a share of the family business. At the same time, her all-too-charming Irish cousin, the womanizing Forbes McCulloch, comes to Glasgow to learn the family business from the bottom up and sets his sights on marrying Lindsay. The style and design of the cover give the impression that this is a historical romance, but the tale is much more than a formulaic love story. Stirling does a bang-up job of illustrating how character shapes a person's life. Forbes, a conniving, self-centered rogue with a mistress on the side and an overpowering sense of entitlement, is a perfect example of how lack of honor can destroy a life. Lindsay, on the other hand, is clearly meant to embody integrity in this complex story full of passion, true love, loyalty, betrayal and revenge. As Lindsay matures and comes to see her husband for what he is, the author adeptly unearths Lindsay's fundamental traits and motivations. Throughout, Stirling explores family dynamics among the proud Franklins and the despairing McCullochs, showing remarkable insight into the different manifestations of human nature. She also provides a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the development of early wartime submarines, adding historic punch to this tale about the triumph of honor over greed. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The tale of a family-owned ship building firm at the turn of the 20th century, Stirling's novel is an uneven romance that unfolds too slowly. Lindsay, the granddaughter of the family patriarch, shipping magnate Owen Franklin, unexpectedly gets her share, albeit minuscule, of the family business and a troublesome cousin to marry. The manipulations of her husband, Forbes, play counterpoint to the propriety of the Franklin family and the decency of Tom Caulder, whose estranged daughter, Sylvie, Forbes claims as mistress. Much of this is predictable and disappointing. Eve Karpf covers the varied cast of characters reasonably well but is left to whine or wail too often. Not recommended. Joyce Kessel, Villa Maria Coll., Buffalo, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.