Tuesday, April 24, 2007
The Testament of Gideon Mack
Finally, I finished reading "The Testament of Gideon Mack" by James Robertson.
I have mixed feelings about this book. On the positive side, Robertson writes good, readable English. I can't recall having to re-read a passage because it lacked clarity. I particularly liked the masterful way he handled the Scottish accent in dialogue; he wrote Scots and carried it off remarkably well.
Robertson also conjures up a cast of believable characters ranging from the mundane to the truly eccentric. One could argue that the characters were a little under-developed but, as the book was largely written from the first person perspective of the egocentric Gideon Mack, this is entirely understandable.
Where Robertson lost the plot for me was in his story telling. The hardback edition of the book runs to 387 pages, but my feeling through the first 200 pages, was that I was reading a lengthy and turgid prologue. The second half was different, however, and the book got into stride finally leaving me pondering Gideon's story as if he were a real person.
The person who recommended this book to me said that they started reading somewhere around chapter 33 and then went back to the beginning after they had finished, in order to fill in the gaps. I tried it from the beginning (as I always do) and found it hard going. Both experiences suggest the Robertson needs to work on the story telling aspect of this book; it just isn't right as it is.
During the early part of the book, my star rating was hovering around 2 (out of five), but with the game lifting in the second half I think that Gideon Mack deserves 3 stars overall with the last half scoring 4 or even 4.5.