Books & Literature

Book Review: Waypoints: My Scottish Journey, by Sam Heughan

MEMOIR: In his first full autobiography the award-winning actor and bestselling author of Clanlands, Sam Heughan, sets out along the West Highland Way to explore his life and reflect on the personal waypoints that define him.

A blend of honest, inspiring memoir and poetic ode to Scotland.

Image credit: Hachette Australia

In recent years, Scottish-born actor and author Sam Heughan has become one of his country’s greatest ambassadors. Readers will no doubt recognise him from the Starz historical drama series Outlander, where he has brought to life the Highland warrior Jamie Fraser for six seasons (and counting). He is also the creator of The Sassenach, an award-winning blended Scotch whisky. Heughan has previously teamed up with co-star Graham McTavish to pen the Scottish-inspired tome Clanlands: Whisky, Warfare, and a Scottish Adventure Like No Other, and its companion, The Clanlands Almanac (check out our review of The Clanlands Almanac here!)

Waypoints marks Heughan’s first venture as a solo author. A memoir that reflects on his childhood right through to his current success as an actor and businessman, it shines a light on his undeniable gift for storytelling.  

Heughan sets up the book around a trek he takes on the famed West Highland Way, illustrating in detail his arduous journey along Scotland’s iconic hiking trail which runs from Milngavie, north of Glasgow, to Fort William in the Highlands. He chronicles the scenery in a way that transports the readers along with him, while also including titbits about the history, geography, and culture of his country. Recollections from his earlier life alternate with Heughan’s hike along the Way, giving the memoir both a past and a present journey to focus on. Heughan recalls his long road to becoming an actor, including the failures and hardest points where he felt like giving up. He also shares the joys of the highs he experienced, both before and after making it big. His past memories and present reveries seem worlds apart but are inherently connected by the themes of long journeys and finding your true self.  

The chapters that focus on Heughan’s early career pitfalls honestly document the number of doors that were slammed in his face. While perhaps painful for the author to reflect on, these memories are incredibly inspiring and relatable, particularly for aspiring actors and artists, or anyone who feels like giving up. Outlander fans, of course, will adore the chapters in which Heughan discusses how he won the role of Jamie Fraser, what that life-changing moment felt like after years of disappointment, and what went down behind the scenes. It may come as a surprise to fans of the show that the breakthrough role, while a blessing, also brought challenges and confronting experiences to Heughan’s life, both on and off set.

But even if you’re not an aspiring actor or an Outlander viewer, this memoir still contains discussions of topics that are relatable to the everyday person: family, relationships, fitting in, self-worth, and body image, to name a few.

Along with being wise and inspirational, the book is also hilarious in places. The most notable stories that had me laughing out loud were Heughan’s memories from various sets over the years, including “horse” riding while portraying the young Alexander the Great, and his conversations with the only other constant presence on his epic hike: mushrooms.

Honest and poetic, Waypoints is both a memoir and an ode to Scotland. It helps readers get to know the man behind the fictional Highland warrior, transports those with wanderlust to the misty hilltops of Scotland, and best of all, inspires people with scary dreams to keep going until they make it.

Reviewed by Vanessa Elle
Instagram: @vanessaellewrites

This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not necessarily of Glam Adelaide.

Distributed by: Hachette Australia
Released: October 2022
RRP: $32.99

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