A 'gowk storm' is an untimely fall of snow in early Spring - a fitting symbol for the anguished story that unfolds in this novel. Like Chekov's famous play, and even more like the real-life Brontës whose story she told in another book, Morrison tells the story of three girls who were born to a minister and his wife in a remote Highland manse, nearly a hundred years ago. It is narrated by the youngest sister, Lisbet, who describes the love affairs of her older sisters, Julia and Emmy, each of whom falls in love with a man deemed an unacceptable match by their patriarchal, rigid and prejudiced society. These societal strictures are set against approaching womanhood, the growing awareness of a life beyond the safety of home, and the wild beauty of the surrounding countryside.
Year of Publication
Nancy Brysson Morrison (1907-1986), was born in Glasgow and educated at the Park School in that city and at Harvington College in London. She came of a talented family who were known as 'writing Morrisons'. Her brother Thomas and her sister Margaret both became well-known novelists like herself. A very private person who never married, she lived mainly in Glasgow, but also in London and Edinburgh. Edwin Muir and Compton Mackenzie praised the 'poetic power' of her prose. Her work was also much admired in America, and indeed her late novel Thea (1962) was first published in New York. The Gowk Storm (1933) was a Book Society Choice, and was successfully dramatised for radio. An interest in biography resulted in books on a variety of historical and literary figures, from Henry VIII to Thomas and Jane Carlyle. Her very readable novels, set partly in Glasgow and partly in the Highlands or on the fringe of the Highlands, include Breakers (1930); When the Wind Blows (1937); The Winnowing Years (1949), which won the first Frederick Niven Award; The Hidden Fairing (1951); and The Following Wind (1954).