- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: Penguin; Later printing edition (18 Jan. 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 014102335X
- ISBN-13: 978-0141023359
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.4 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 125 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 72,607 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Testament of Gideon Mack Paperback – 18 Jan 2007
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Overwhelmingly compassionate and thought-provoking . . . In the hands of great writers the unlikeliest stories are generally the most rewarding (Irvine Welsh The Guardian)
Robertson is a true descendant of James Hogg – this is a superb piece of Scottish Gothic (The Times)
A rich novel of ideas about faith, Scotland and the ways in which fictions shape our lives (Sunday Telegraph)
Artful and lyrical . . . you are under the influence of a master storyteller . . . this book promises to become a Scottish masterpiece (Sunday Herald)
If the devil didn't exist, would man have to invent him? For Gideon Mack, faithless minister, unfaithful husband and troubled soul, the existence of God, let alone the Devil, is no more credible than that of ghosts or fairies. Until the day he falls into a gorge and is rescued by someone who might just be Satan himself. Mack's testament - a compelling blend of memoir, legend, history and, quite probably, madness - recounts one man's emotional crisis, disappearance, resurrection and death. It also transports you into an utterly mesmerising exploration of the very nature of belief.See all Product description
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It is the first James Robertson book I have read and I anticipate that it won't be the last. The narrative is highly compelling and the characters are very interesting.
I like the structure of a book within a book. We have a life story of a Church of Scotland minister which culminates in his disappearance and later death. It culminates in his near death experience and his claim that he has met and conversed with the Devil. The idea is so intriguing. Has he taken temporary leave of his senses? Is this a reaction against his avowed atheism or a reaction against his oppressive upbringing as a son of the manse? How reliable a narrator is he really?
While the narrative appears to be rational, it is clear that his friends and acquaintances are increasingly viewing with unease.
It ends with so many intriguing unanswered questions, which I hope will lead to some good boozy discussion.
I recommend the book very highly.
The whole book is one big mystery really, some of the key points that bug you throughout but never get answered include;
Does Gideon Mack meet the devil or is he mad?
Is the 'devil' really the devil or god showing the way to a man who has lost his faith?
Is the devil really Gideons friend or is he setting him up for the ultimate downfall?
These key aspects never get properly answered, there are hints both for and against the arguments but I personally have reached no conclusion on any of them, in many cases this would leave you frustrated but in Gideon Mack it adds to the beautiful quirkiness of the book.
The way the author writes the book has made me on more than one occasion wonder if as he says it was based on a true story (on several occasions he says this is the case and that only the names and places have been changed). This more than anything is testament to how great a read it is, I am 100% atheist but there may somewhere have been a story of a man just like this who quite possibly went mad.
Gideon Mack himself is a very engaging character who you are never quite sure if you like or not or for that matter if it would be right to like him.
My only criticism would be when the author writes in 'Scottish tongue'. I don't know if it is actually Scottish and for the short conversations it does not bother me. In around the middle of the book however there is a short story told purely in this manner which for me was a 10 page write off as I did not have the patience to wade through it at snail pace.
Overall however I would highly recommend this especially to people who enjoyed books such as THE BOOK THIEF and SHADOW OF THE WIND. They all feel strangely similar and are real 'sit back and relax' tales of life that should be enjoyed by just about any reader. Take my word for it this is a definite must have book.
A thoroughly engaging account of Mack's mysterious disappearance that leaves you questioning more than just your beliefs. The story is deftly told with style and substance. It is completely engrossing and one of the best books I have EVER read.
Buy it now.
I advise reading it in a warm, sunlit place as James Robertson will have you thinking you too are being watched.
A most unusual story, which I think the majority of readers will enjoy, whether they be "intellectual" students of literature or people who want a good story.
It was delivered in good time and in excellent condition
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A well-written, thought provoking read. Recommended.
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