Once again, Stewart proves to be a captivating tour guide. As he clocks up miles, he covers a range of topics, from Highland dancing to Border ballads, his childhood in Malaysia to his days in Parliament (or 'the nuthouse'). He brings archaic languages and traditions vividly alive, wrestles with nationalism and nationhood and, in a poignant closing section, traces his father’s war years and last days ... Beautiful, evocative and wise, The Marches highlights new truths about old countries and the unbreakable bond between a father and son.
This is a tender book sheltering under a robust title ... How much Stewart regrets this growing apartness is hard to know from this account. The delight of it lies in his encounters with the specific rather than in ruminations about the general. He has an alert eye for the awkward detail – the things that don’t quite fit with the tone of a scene. It makes him an enjoyable and persuasive writer ... As well as a fine lament for his father, Stewart may have written the obituary of a social, military and political class.
...a sensitive exploration of what borders mean or don’t mean ... the book is held together by Mr. Stewart’s writing, with his short chapters moving skillfully from history to personal encounter and using the views of others as a counterpoint to his own impressions, as well as by his wide knowledge, his questioning mind and, above all, the character of his father ... it is the prose that carries the book during the weaker middle section.