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The Shadow [Paperback]

Neil M. Gunn
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 8.93 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

17 Aug 2006
Horrific experiences of the blitz in wartime London and the spiritual bankruptcy of her lover and his Marxist acquaintances are seen through the eyes of Nan, a young Scotswoman, who has returned to her native Highlands to recover from a nervous breakdown. Her letters to her lover from the warm and friendly ambience of a widowed aunt's farmhouse reflect her innermost thoughts on the essence of being and the restorative effects of the quiet rhythm of country life. The shadows of the immediate past begin to recede, but her return to health is rudely interrupted by news of the brutal murder of a neighbouring crofter and the unsolicited attentions of a sinister stranger. The inevitable relapse brings her aunt, a practical and cultured woman, into contact with both lover and stranger and pits her optimistic, human and emotional approach to life against the theories and bleak logic of the two men. The recovery of the young woman brings aunt and niece even closer together in their understanding of life, but the final denouement, although imbued with hope, is inconclusive and leaves the reader to imagine the eventual outcome. This is a subtly thoughtful and gripping novel, written with all the power of a master hand. Although written over fifty years ago, the book has a strange relevance to today's events. The blight of terrorism, the dominance of consumerism in everyday life, the absence of a spiritual dimension in domestic affairs and fears of the harmful effects of globalisation on the freedom and development of small communities, are symptoms of an uneasiness with regard to world stability and the erosion of traditional values and beliefs.

Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Whittles Publishing; Reprinted edition edition (17 Aug 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1870325494
  • ISBN-13: 978-1870325493
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,966,795 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Dairmid Gunn, the author's nephew, recalls that Neil Gunn inscribed his wife's copy of `The Shadow', `For one who chases all the shadows away'. Aunt Phemie, who is based on the real-life Daisy Gunn, exhibits a similar force in the novel. To encounter Phemie Robertson is to be enamoured by her and to be challenged by her views on what is good about life. Nan (the niece), Ranald (a dialectical Marxist) and Adam McAlpine (an artist) may have contradictory views to Phemie's but they recognise the life force in her. Aunt Phemie is the physically attractive `older woman' but, crucially, Gunn emphasises the appeal of her quietude: `She is comfortably slim and although well over forty the gold in her hair has not faded much. I suppose gold doesn't. She is tirelessly energetic worker and yet she can stand quite still'. `The Shadow' is full of antitheses, essentially turning on the contrast between London with its blitz and Marxist circle and the restorative values of the Highlands' countryside.
Part One of the novel comprises letters from Nan to Ran in London. Readers need to appreciate these are in a style designed to reflect the mind of someone who has experienced a nervous breakdown. Highly emblematic and lyrically suffused, Nan's letters lack coherence and are hard to read. The remaining Part Two evidences that wonderful command and control of language that is Gunn's hallmark as a writer. For example, towards the end of `The Shadow', by which time the reader can assume that Nan has recovered, there is the most marvellous description of harvesting:

`What happened gave her a profound thrill, for it was exactly as if the engine came alive on its own.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Neil Gunn's books are great reading -- deep and thought provoking 23 April 2013
By R. Clay - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As I've written for several of Gunn's books, Neil Gunn's books give pleasure by their well written and deep content. The stories are thought-provoking and inspiring. I highly recommend this author and collect as many of his books as possible. Can't go wrong with a Neil Gunn book!
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