Josi S. Kilpack - Writing the Love Story of Sir Walter Scott

On Thursday 14th September 2017 we had a talk by Josi S. Kilpack. She was introduced by our Chairman, Prof. Peter Garside. (video below)

It’s a special pleasure to welcome as this evening’s speaker the American novelist Josi S. Kilpack. Josi has written some 25 novels to date, including a 12-book series intriguingly categorised as culinary mysteries, as well as one more straightforward cookbook. More recently she has turned to historical romance, and it was one of these titles, The Lady of the Lakes, with its strong echoing of Scott’s most famous poem, that first drew the Club’s attention to her as a desirable speaker. On the other hand, Josi hails from the state of Utah on the far side of the USA, where she has a family of four children and is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and it seemed that us twain were never likely to meet. Apprised that Josi might be over here this autumn, Lee Simpson as our Events Convenor nevertheless pounced, and with her generous agreement and a slight rejigging of our Programme I’m delighted to say we procured our goal.

First published in March last year, The Lady of the Lakes, is indeed about Walter Scott, focussing on two crucial romances in his mid-twenties, his courtship of the heiress Williamina Belsches, which took him on at least one unavailing visit to her family home in Fettercairn in Kincardineshire, and his more successful pursuit of Charlotte Carpenter (born Charpentier), then a ward of the Marquess of Downshire, which was mainly played out in the setting of Gilsland, a spa resort in Cumberland close to the Roman Wall. There’s a sort of common understanding that Scott’s apparent rejection by Williamina in favour of a more socially advantageous suitor led to a kind of rebound match with Charlotte less than a year later. But The Lady of Lakes depicts a more complex pattern than this. Having just returned from Gilsland myself, almost exactly 220 years since Scott was there with Charlotte, I can hardly think of a better situation for Scott’s adventurous yet at the same time innately practical side to find expression. Josi’s work also mirrors Scott’s in skilfully blending known ‘facts’, imaginative projections based on probability, and the odd moment of artistic license, and no doubt she will also want to talk about this aspect of her writing too.

There’s clearly much to discuss, so without any more delay over to our speaker, Josi Kilpack, whose tittle has been slightly amended to ‘Writing Walter and Charlotte’s Love Story.