Character Study

Meet Brodie McBride, the last pearl fisher of Scotland

There's a good chance you might fall for the hero in the latest novel from Julia Stuart. A man of principles and a devoted father; it's time to meet Brodie McBride, the last pearl fisher of Scotland

Brodie McBride is the last full-time pearl fisher of Scotland. There are other fishers, like the weekend amateurs who, once they’ve searched their pearl mussels, leave them to die on the riverbank instead of returning them to the water. But Brodie’s not like that. He desperately wants Scotland’s dwindling pearl mussels to survive – the gems they contain are the only means he has to support his wife, Elspeth, and 10-year-old daughter Maggie. They’re all that matter to him and he’s worried that one day he’ll lose them – life has taught him that everyone he loves leaves him.

For the last 19 years he’s been secretly collecting white pearls with a hint of pink for a necklace for Elspeth, convinced that the love token will save their marriage. Brodie’s a fifth-generation pearl fisher – his great-great-grandfather was pearl fisher to the Prince of Wales – and each of them gave their wife a necklace. Brodie’s ashamed that it’s taking him so long to finish his. All he needs now is the big pearl that will sit in the middle, but he just can’t find it. Nor can he find enough pearls to make a proper living anymore. Sometimes he shuts himself inside his hut with a bottle of whisky or red wine to escape.

But while Brodie may appear to be foolishly stubborn when it comes to pearl fishing (in fact it’s a family secret that drives him), he’s absolutely a man to be admired. When Maggie was born without a lower left arm, and Elspeth subsequently sank into post-natal depression, it was Brodie who kept the family going. His relationship with Maggie is so close that Elspeth believes there’s no better father than him. Indeed, he’ll do anything for the bairn, which gets him into desperate trouble.

He’s a man of principles with a wry sense of humour and it’s no surprise that he’s well liked in his home town of Nether Isla, particularly by his best friend, Mungo, who owns the chippy. The pair are in the same pub-quiz team, not exactly known for its triumphs. Brodie, who’s captain, has a secret dread of being thought of as uneducated as he didn’t go to university like Elspeth and her ex-boyfriend, Cameron. Brodie’s inner world cracks further when Cameron returns to live in Nether Isla, having made a fortune in the Middle East. Can the last pearl fisher of Scotland keep his precious family together when events spiral wildly out of his control?

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The Last Pearl Fisher of Scotland

Julia Stuart

From the bestselling author of Balthazar Jones and the Tower of London Zoo comes the story of one man's quest to find a pearl, save his marriage and track down a missing rabbit named Frank

'The Last Pearl Fisher of Scotland is a gently comic, gently tragic novel, full of lyricism, humanity and the pearl that is love. Read it at once'
A. L. Kennedy

Brodie McBride is having a tough time.

The last expert in the ancient art of pearl fishing, he’s on a quest to track down the pearl that will complete a necklace for his wife, Elspeth, convinced that the love token will save their marriage.

But Scotland’s rivers are running out of mussels, Elspeth is running out of patience, and their daughter, Maggie, is running wild with her moustachioed pet rabbit.

And when Maggie takes matters into her own hands, determined to keep the family together, the McBrides are soon at the centre of international commotion that will change everyone’s lives forever.

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