The Testament of Gideon Mack

The Testament of Gideon Mack The Testament Of Gideon Mack Is James Robertson S Acclaimed Novel Exploring Faith And Belief For Gideon Mack, Faithless Minister, Unfaithful Husband And Troubled Soul, The Existence Of God, Let Alone The Devil, Is No 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 HimselfMack 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

James Robertson born 1958 is a Scottish writer who grew up in Bridge of Allan, Stirlingshire He is the author of several short story and poetry collections, and has published four novels The Fanatic, Joseph Knight, The Testament of Gideon Mack, and And the Land Lay Still Joseph Knight was named both the Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year and the Saltire Society Book of the Year in 2003 04

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  • Paperback
  • 386 pages
  • The Testament of Gideon Mack
  • James Robertson
  • English
  • 24 March 2019
  • 9780141023359

10 thoughts on “The Testament of Gideon Mack

  1. says:

    I bought James Robertson s The Testament of Gideon Mack in 2010, and it has been sitting on my shelf unread but not forgotten I finally read it in January of 2013 and don t know why I waited that long It s been longlisted for the Booker although it didn t win or even make the shortlist and the premise provoking immediate interest which is why I bought it in the first place.The novel opens with an introduction by Patrick Walker, a publisher from Edinburgh bewildered by the strange story of the late Gideon Mack, author of the manuscript he is not sure he should publish as it presents a very strange story Gideon lived in the small town of Monimaskit, located on the east coast of Scotland between Dundee and Aberdeen, where he was a minister for the local Kirk and competed in many marathons to raise money for charity During one of his runs in the local forest Gideon slips and tumbles into the Black Jaws, a great gorge through which flows the Keldo river Despite everybody presuming him dead he unexpectedly emerges very much alive three days later, claiming to have experienced the impossible Gideon claims to have been rescued from death by no one else but the Devil himself, and that he held a three day long palaver with him in an underground cave Gideon insists on telling the story to his congregation and eventually does so, to disastrous effects The whole community of Monimaskit is shocked at Gideon s blasphemy he is excluded from the Church which sees him as a disgrace, and is branded as lunatic by the members of his former parish, which effectively makes him a pariah Gideon soon disappears again and is not heard of, until he is discovered dead months later in the local hills The police rules that Gideon s death must have occured soon after he vanished from Monimaskit, and that no third party was involved All that remains of him is his manuscript, which ended up in Walker s hands when it was found by one of his former agents.Walker cannot shake off his curiosity, so much that he decides to send one of his employees to Monimaskit to interview those who knew Gideon whose testimonies he provides as an epilogue The bulk of the novel is comprised by the manuscript which contains Gideon s strange story from his growing up in a home of a Presbyterian priest, through his service in the church and the discovery of a mysterious stone in the Monimaskit woods which was not there before, his accident and account of the time he claimed to have spent with the devil, and his subsequent last days as an outcast Through his own writing, Gideon emerges as quite a character a man who is good willing but lacking directions and a sense of purpose, who does not believe in a God but nonetheless became a minister, and who was engaged in a complex web of difficult personal relationships Through his manuscript, Gideon wants to honestly answer the questions which might trouble anyone reading it how one can be a non believing minister, and importantly how is it possible to not believe in God but believe in the Devil The ending notes consisting of interviews with those who knew him cast another light at his account and at Gideon himself.With The Testament of Gideon Mack James Robertson has proven himself to be a good writer and storyteller, who is able to create interesting characters and a sense of place and systematically build the tension and drama, making it last until the end Gideon s story is set against the small Scottish coastal town where everyone knows everyone else Its history and inhabitants are all well drawn, and the parochial and gossiping society gives a specific charm to the novel, as does Scotland itself a country full of beautiful lochs and highlands, mysterious woods and stones, folk legends, ancient myths and religious myths Himself a native Scot, Robertson knows how to present them and created a very readable book which is also quite moving in parts, with peculiar emotional ambiguity perpetrating its pages Both sad and uplifting, The Testament of Gideon Mack is a good yarn and sometimes that s exactly what we need.

  2. says:

    man maybe I didn t get it.all gideon mack made me want to do was jog in the woods, have a spot of tea, resent my father, jog again, do it with my neighbor s wife, and maybe have a little tea this might be totally acceptable a lot of the time well, not socially acceptable, but you know what I mean , but the jacket copy and the reviews all gave me a different impression I was expecting faust, and I got portrait of a lady actually, I really like portrait of a lady but you get the point.

  3. says:

    Other reviewers have summarised the plot so all I ll say is that if he never wrote anything else, this book would show how skilled a professional Robertson is The structure the reader knows the outcome from the start needs to be flawless to hold interest and Robertson pulls it off superbly without using any fancy tricks.The narrative drive is maintained by numerous unresolved relationships but perhaps mostly by the question of whether Gideon Mack really met the devil or whether he has lost his mind Each reader will draw his or her own conclusion on that.You ll be sufficiently convinced by the structure, the setting, and by some of the characters, to be tempted to get googling afterwards seeking information on the parish of Monimaskit and the draw of Keldo Water.Highly recommended.

  4. says:

    The Testament of Gideon Mack is the first book I have read by James Robertson, and I enjoyed it so much that I now feel eager to seek out his other novels It s imaginative, brilliantly written, evokes places and characters vividly, and is consistently smart and witty without ever becoming pretentious The plot concerns a faithless minister who has a near death experience and a meeting with the devil, but it s than just a story as Gideon s testament unravels, we are shown a portrait of one man s life, his questioning of that life his beliefs, relationships, passions and ambitions and himself, and possibly his descent into madness.It isn t perfect the book is so rich with information and wide in scope that some aspects suffer some of the characterisation is weak, with Gideon s wife, Jenny, being particularly two dimensional But the clever thing about this book is that, since it is written as the protagonist s personal account of his own life, the reader is constantly aware that we are only being told what Gideon wants us to know, and shown what he wants us to see.Other reviewers have found the book s finale inconclusive, but I think that this open ending is the only way a story like this could have come to a close The epilogue reminds us forcibly that Gideon may well have been mad and that his testament could have been lies and fantasy but the mysterious clues left behind such as the devil s trainers give the story a supernatural edge which sends a delicious chill down your spine.More than just a good read, The Testament of Gideon Mack really makes you think about life, death, the afterlife, love, religion and everything inbetween it left me reassessing my thoughts on these issues days after I had come to the end of the story This novel works on so many levels that I find it almost impossible to imagine anyone not savouring at least some part of it Most definitely the best book I have read so far this year.

  5. says:

    The I thought about this book after I d finished, the it twisted and turned in my mind Was it because the reliability of the narrator became and suspect, especially at the end Or was it because the author laid out such a seemingly simple story that, upon review, roils a reader s ideas about what faith is, whether good works are important than faith, or ecstatic joy, or duty, orThe beginning of the book took a while to get going I learned too much about the main character s upbringing am always suspicious of writers who create characters who remember so deeply into their pasts As the book progressed, I enjoyed being caught up in Gideon Mack s life, with all its small compromises and tepid responses Getting pulled into the Scots atmosphere of chill and resignation was enjoyable, but not everyone s cup of tea.Was Gideon Mack really mentally ill, or is that what any character or reader must think when confronted with his story of death and resurrection Was he tricked by the devil to stop playing games and in so doing ruin his life Was he really drinking as much as everyone thought, or is that another example of how people want to quarantine and water down those things that happen outside of the regular world It s a testament to Robertson s skill that he can raise all these questions without coming down on either side of the faith issue.

  6. says:

    This book is incredibly difficult to summarize but I ll give it a try First of all let me say that I was up most of last night finishing this book and skipped my a.m walk to read the epilogue There s so much here that once you start reading, you can t stop Period It s one of those books where you find yourself compelled to keep going because you re completely sucked in Would I recommend it MOST Definitely Here s what the Penguin website has to say in summary Gideon Mack is a good man and a minister who does not believe in God but after a near deadly fall into a raging river he claims to have met the Devil Gideon is expelled from the church, mocked by the tabloids, shunned as a madman, and then he disappears The case is considered closed until a publisher receives what appears to be Gideon s posthumous account of his experience and the unusual life that preceded it I can t improve on this summary without wrecking the story and this book is so unique that I don t want to do that.For me, the book raises some interesting questions, mostly about finding that line between what we are supposed to believe vs what we know to be true, based on our own experiences Is a person crazy if he believes that he experienced something that rational minds can t grasp And in the same vein, why do we try to attribute rational solutions to some things when they simply cannot be explained Does everything have a rational solution, or are there some things that we just have to take on faith In the end you have to make up your own mind about Gideon Mack there are no easy answers here.I noticed that not all reviewers and not all readers liked this book, but that s okay Personally, I thought the writing was superb, the characters are incredibly believable and the premise unique I couldn t wait for the US version, so ordered it from the UK, and it was worth every penny and Don t miss this one.

  7. says:

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  8. says:

    This novel is the fictional autobiography of Scottish minister, Reverend Gideon Mack While rescuing the dog of a fellow minster Gideon had fallen into a local gorge known as the Black Jaws and is swept along a treacherous river disappearing underground He is believed by all to be dead However, three days later he is found with hardly any injuries and claims that he was rescued by the Devil himself with whom he spent three days underground His public declaration of these events leads to him branded as a pariah and madman Shortly after this he disappears from the community creating further sensation.From the prologue of the novel, written by the publisher who has come into possession of Gideon s manuscript, we are aware that Gideon Mack had been notorious for these claims as well as for his second disappearance that has recently culminated in the discovery of his remains on Ben Alder, a remote mountain in Scotland Knowing the outcome from the outset in no way detracts from the novel as Robertson s writing and storytelling are superb He writes of Scotland from a deep love of it s history, myth and legends It was no surprise to learn he had written a collection of Scottish ghost stories earlier in his career.Gideon Mack is a fascinating and complex character whose life starts out quite mundanely He is a fundamentally good man from a strict Calvinist background who has entered the ministry even though he does not believe in God His faithlessness is a key point throughout the book especially when he is confronted with the person claiming to be the Devil.A sense of otherworldliness lurks at the edge of the novel without dominating it s narrative During the prologue we learn that Gideon had adopted the pseudonym of Robert Kirk at the bed and breakfast he stayed in before his final trip up Ben Alder The Reverend Robert Kirk was the 17th Century author of The Secret Commonwealth Of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies and this book, as well as the story of Kirk s life and mysterious death, makes the occasional appearance in the novel In addition, Robertson claims both James Hogg s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner and Robert Louis Stevenson s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde as influences This shows in the themes as well as the timeless atmosphere of the novel I certainly had to keep reminding myself the events were taking place in contemporary Scotland and not the 19th Century.Robertson manages to create vivid characters and convey quite complex ideas in a format that remains highly readable I enjoyed the book immensely and feel it will be one I shall revisit in the future.

  9. says:

    This book better be getting better soon so far it reads like boring memoir I still have hope though I m really holding out for when he meets the devilWell, I liked that devil, but aside from that, I was disappointed I was expecting The book gives you a brief description of the legend of Gideon Mack in the beginning, but then Gideon s testament doesn t do much to really alter that legend So it s like we already know what s going to happen, and then he explains in deeeetaaaail what happens The philosophical spritual questions he grapples with didn t seem like anything new to me I think Emily has it right in her review He jogs, drinks tea and whiskey, sleeps with his friend s wife, feels guilty, resents his parents, and does some good raises money for charity, etc He s not such a bad guy, and I don t think he seems much changed after he meets the Devil My favorite part of the book was the epilogue, I think, where we get to see his life through the eyes of the other characters in the book But it s so short Blech I m frustrated with this There was so much potential

  10. says:

    A book which I kept reading because something interesting always seemed to be around the next page, but never sadly never materialising The most intriguing characters were unexplored, whilst the mundane ones were examined in sonambulistic depth The most exciting and anticipated section of the book, meeting the devil, was a let down and the moral of the story, which jumped out in the last few pages, was rather insultingly spelt out, in flashing lights, by the author just in case you d switched off while reading and missed the metaphor.

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