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The Testament of Gideon Mack - James Robertson

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This one wasn't at all what I was expecting! For some odd reason I was expecting a light read... possibly because one of the review comments on the back describes it as, 'Very funny'. I think they must have been reading a different book to me. Anyway, The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson was longlisted for the Man Booker prize and was also one of Richard and Judy's book selections for this year. (Wonder which the author was most proud of?) And it's very hard to describe. But I shall try.


The story concerns a manuscript written by Gideon Mack. The publisher has to decide whether or not to print this thing and presents it for the reader to peruse. Gideon is the son of a Church of Scotland minister. Much of the book comes over as autobiographical because it deals with his childhood, relationship with his harsh father and nervous mother, student days, and so forth. Faith plays a big part - Gideon's lack of it and his decision to follow in his father's footsteps and become a minister, regardless. The life changing event is a long time coming but we get there in the end. Gideon falls into 'Black Jaws' - a tumultuous river gorge - while rescuing a friend's dog, and almost drowns. He is rescued, deep in the caves, by 'someone' and thus begins Gideon's downfall...

I now need to say whether or not I liked it. Which is hard - because I'm not actually sure. It was nicely written and at no time did I want to stop reading. It reminded me of the kind of Gothic writing so popular years ago, that I actually enjoy, and there was quite a paranormal element to the story. So what's the problem? Well, it dragged a bit, that's what. Too much about Gideon's life and not enough dealing with the parts I was interested in. The last quarter of the book was fine... the rest, while okay and *maybe* relevant, and maybe not, felt like padding to me. YMMV, as they say and it's clearly a popular book in some quarters, so there you go. Seven out of ten.

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