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The Changeling [Paperback]

Robin Jenkins , Andrew Marr
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
RRP: £7.99
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Book Description

3 April 2008
Thirteen-year-old Tom Curdie, the product of a Glasgow slum, is on probation for theft. His teachers admit that he is clever, but only one, Charles Forbes, sees an uncanny warmth in his reticence and in his seemingly insolent smile. So he decides to take Tom on holiday with his own family . . . This powerful novel explores one of Jenkins’s consistent and most fruitful themes – how goodness and innocence is compromised when faced with the pressures of growing up and becoming part of society.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books; Main edition (3 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847672388
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847672384
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 196,041 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'If you are interested in books that are human and wise, then treat yourself this year to some Robin Jenkins.' Andrew Marr

Book Description

A modern classic with a new introduction by Andrew Marr

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing and tragic 30 Aug 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"The Changeling" is of the finest of Robin Jenkins' novels and demonstrates his familiar themes of the dichotomy between ideology and brutal reality, altruism and disillusionment, innocence and experience. The story centres around two main characters, Charlie Forbes, a middle-aged schoolteacher, with high ideals and a headstrong adherence to liberal moral values, and his pupil, Tom Curdie, an intelligent but damaged 13 year-old from a Glasgow slum, on probation for petty theft. Forbes believes he can redeem the boy and determines, despite warnings from his more cynical colleagues, to take him on the family holiday, to Towellan, a seaside beauty spot. But gradually, Forbes' high principles fall apart, as the very presence of Tom seems to shatter the coherence of his family life, his values and his own humanity, triggering the underlying cruelty within himself and his "respectable" family. Just as Tom slowly begins to trust his mentor, he himself is demonised and becomes "The Changeling" of the title. This is a short, but brilliant novel and belies it's original publication date of 1958, because the themes that Jenkins is exploring here are timeless and are immediately familiar to the experience of the modern reader. The author has a gift for capturing the painful isolation that often accompanies the childhood experience of those who do not, for whatever reason, feel part of society. His skill in writing totally convincing dialogue that lives and breathes as you read is unique. The description of Tom's home life with his alcoholic mother and her partner are genuinely shocking yet imbued with terrible pathos. It is a genuinely tragic story.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A depressing, yet thought provoking read. 11 Mar 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The Changeling is the story of a small, deprived boy named Tom Curdie being taken on a family holiday with his pensive teacher Charlie Forbes. Over the course of the book, Robin Jenkins employs his omniscient writing style to good effect, getting into the minds of all the characters in such a way as to really bring the story to life. The exceptional quality to his writing really does make the characters he creates feel real enough to truly empathize with and feel sorry for.
The story that is related to the reader is a tragic and upsetting affair that shows how one unlucky man's well meaning, but misguided actions can have devastating consequences. Tom Curdie has put up walls in his mind to act as survival mechanisms for coping with the atrocities of his everyday life in one of the worst slum areas of Glasgow. With this holiday, Tom is shown a life that he can never have and his own becomes unbearable in contrast. While he wonders how he can ever go back, Charlie Forbes' own family deteriorates with the presence of Tom. As everything culminates to a tragic climax, it becomes clear that as his colleagues warned him, Charlie Forbes' plan was doomed from the start.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected, Brilliant! 12 Jun 2008
Format:Paperback
This book was sent to me and I don't think I would have selected it had I seen it in a store. But I was gripped from the first page and could hardly put it down. It takes a lot to grip ME! But this author REALLY knows what he is doing, and, in just a few words, paints portraits so vivid that you are in the minds of all the characters and just longing to know what is going to happen.
The theme of charity, a middle-class family taking a delinquent slum kid with them on their Scottish holiday, is particularly relevant to today and school violence.
The boy, from a ghastly home, alcoholic parents and rats, enters a new world of decency, love and respect. He does not know how to react.
And when his time with this family is over, how does he return to his ghastly family?
I can only tell you that you will hold your breath until the very last page, praying and wish for the impossible happy ending.
Robin Jenkins must have been an extraordinary man. He is an extraordinary writer, economical with words but getting the utmost effect and emotions from them. I wanted to cry and scream at times. I shall never forget this book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Changeling - Enjoy at any level 28 Dec 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This classic piece of litrature reflects in many ways society's influences on family units and individuals. The novel is based on the quest of and idealistic teacher, Charlie Forbes. He feels his pupil, Tom, would benefit from a holiday with the Forbes' Family in the country. The changeling was written and set in the mid 1950's, but is a pertinent now as the time it was written. I feel Robin Jenkins work is thought provoking and inspiring; his ability to produce realistic characters enables him to display the influence adults and society have on childhood.
The moral fable warns people to nurture childhood innocence and avoid creating expectations that cannot be fulfilled: growing up is hard enough without adding more.
In his writing Robin Jenkins highlights issues to which there are no easy solutions. Having read this novel many times I find it thought provoking and inspiring, through its emotional analysis of the events that occur in the journey to adulthood. With real characters there are many different aspects that I relate to - feelings, actions, situations and people that I have encountered in my life.
Jenkins style is excellent and a joy to read. Highly recommended for anyone studying English at any level or anyone who has an interest in children.
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1.0 out of 5 stars patronising rubbish
The Changeling
Patronising portrayal of a working class slum in 1950'sGlasgow, even more patronising portrayal of a teacher in such an area. Read more
Published 9 months ago by mc
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem
Regret having missed out on his novels/writing when I was younger. This is up there with To Kill A Mockingbird (but was written a lot earlier) and is one I will read again. Read more
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Changeling
I came across Robin Jenkins by accident. I thought this book was about the US movie of the same name..wrong. Read more
Published on 28 May 2012 by J. G. Spry
4.0 out of 5 stars Life is hard
I read the reviews and they are all 100%. I do read a mixture of stories and this one I felt was a must. Read more
Published on 18 April 2012 by Hank
5.0 out of 5 stars This will embed itself in your head for a long time
I won't attempt to summarise this remarkable book - other reviewers have already done an excellent job of this.

I simply couldn't put it down. Read more
Published on 10 April 2012 by Marvin
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