Alan Garner, steeped in the atmosphere and lore of his Cheshire birthplace, has over the decades produced a series of books that touch the soul at a deep level, awakening powerful emotions all but forgotten by modern man. His much loved children's books succeeded in evoking both a rare beauty and blind terror (who can forget the spine-chilling Mara in the Weirdstone of Brisingamen?), inspired by a profound respect for the existence of a potent "something other" within nature. In Strandloper Garner plunges deep into that primal mystery through his powerful evocation of the extraordinary life of William Buckley, a farm labourer whose own deep link with the "old ways" of his fellow villagers is rudely severed by his transportation to Australia. First forced to leave family and fianceé, he subsequently faces extreme hardship and near death to finally lose his identity as an 18th century English farmhand. The myths and sacred symbols that made up his world in the past are his connection into a new life, harsh and numinous, in which man is restored again to his primordial relationship with nature.
Garner skillfully works in the grand themes of time and eternity, the nature of religious worship and true wisdom, the value of education, linear and cylical time, the role of nature and the purpose of existence. He is a weaver of magic, gifted with the skill of the true poet, who is concerned with the soul of man. Buckleys's life is revealed as an exquisite web woven from his own archetypes and truths where dream shapes reality and makes it meaningful. The conclusion is sublime, moving this reader, for one, to tears. I would unequivocally recommend Strandloper as one of the most powerful and extraordinary books you are ever likely to read.