For the MacDonalds, the past is not a foreign country. This Cape Breton clan may have lived in the New World since 1779, when Calum Ruadh (“the red Calum”) and his wife, 12 children and dog landed. Scotland, however, remains their true home. So profound is their connection to their lost land that on brief visits they find themselves welcomed by strangers. When one descendent tells a Scotswoman that she’s from Canada, she is offered a gentle rejoinder: “That may be. But you are really from here. You have just been away for a while.” In some ways this is unsurprising, since the MacDonalds either have deep black hair or their ancestor’s colouring. And those with the latter have “eyes that were so dark as to be beyond brown and almost in the region of glowing black. Such individuals would manifest themselves as strikingly unfamiliar to some, and as eerily familiar to others”. Another sport of nature? Many are fraternal twins, including Alistair MacLeod’s narrator, Alexander, and his sister.