For the latest edition of our now annual Burnscasts, Ali and Ian travelled to the Bard’s own country in South Ayrshire to talk to the writer Catherine Czerkawska about her latest novel, ‘The Jewel’. It’s a historical novel which examines Robert Burns’ relationship with his wife, Jean Armour, and does so from Jean’s point of view.
It’s a fascinating book which looks at a story rarely told, and Catherine talks in detail about how she approached the not inconsiderable task of getting to know more about Jean and Robert’s family life, and to try and get Jean’s ‘voice’.
As well as historical research Catherine went to Burns’ poetry, songs and letters to get a better sense of their relationship, and her publisher, Saraband Books, have also published an accompanying collection of the relevant writings.
Taking the above as a starting point, what follows is an hour of fascinating chat which touches on the reality of family life rather than on the mythology which surrounded, and continues to attach itself to, Burns. Catherine also talks about her previous novels and why history appeals to her as a writer of fiction.
But if that’s not enough for you there’s also a little bit of poetry and song. It is Burns Night after all. You can also find out more about Catherine Czerkawska and her writing at A Writer’s Life, and by following her on Twitter.
If you aren’t yet a subscriber to the SWH! podcast you can do so, (or simply listen) at iTunes or by RSS. You can also download it by clicking on the relevant link to the right of this post, or, if you want it right here, right now, you can listen on
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For your Burns Night needs, you can still find all you require at the BBC’s exhaustive online resource.
The podcasts are coming thick and fast this year, so watch out for our next one appearing in your inbox some time soon. In the meantime, happy Burns Night, and sae the Lord be thankit…