First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has penned an introduction to her lifelong favourite novel – which will be published in a new edition this week.
Ms Sturgeon, 49, who describes herself as having been an “avid reader” all her life, wrote about the impact classic Mearns-set novel Sunset Song had on her as a child.
It was originally published in 1932, as the first book in a trilogy, written by Lewis Grassic Gibbon.
The story charts the life of a young woman, Chris Guthrie, growing up in a farming family in rural Aberdeenshire, and how the impact of the First World War changed her family’s life.
As well as describing an increasingly industrialised Scotland, it addresses an “inferiority complex” around accents and attitudes towards the war.
At the time it was published, the book shocked readers for its realistic portrayals of sex and childbirth – and the plot touched on topics including abuse and incest.
Ms Sturgeon wrote that Chris’ character “helped me make sense of the girl I was”.
And she said the book was a reminder that “the joys and heartbreaks of our own lives are but the blink of an eye in the grand sweep of history”.
Canongate, which publishes a new edition of Sunset Song tomorrow, said Ms Sturgeon’s introduction highlights “the importance of Sunset Song to Scottish identity and discusses the formative impact it has had upon her own life”.
Ms Sturgeon wrote: “The love I feel for Sunset Song is not just an appreciation of its considerable literary quality; it is as much, maybe more so, a reflection of the profound impact it had on me at a formative time of my life.
“In no small way, I owe my love of literature to this novel.
“Chris Guthrie spoke to, and helped me make sense of, the girl I was.”