Butcher's Broom

Neil Miller Gunn, Author Walker & Company $25.95 (429p) ISBN 978-0-8027-1291-2
Originally published in Scotland in 1934, this tale by the author of the well-received books Morning Tide , chronicles the demise of Scotland's highland culture. A marvel of rich language and mythic storytelling, the book is set in the early 19th century and centers on the figure of Dark Mairi, a widow and healer in a small, close-knit community. Dark Mairi and her neighbors have lived and worked on the Riasgan estate for generations when the absentee landlord evicts them to make room for herds of sheep. In prose heavily laced with Gaelic language and poetry, Gunn depicts the rustic Highlanders in the fundamental human business of love and hate, birth and death. Unfortunately, he tends to proselytize when outlining the political and economic forces underlying the mass expulsion of Highland tenant farmers and his portrayals of the landlord and others involved in the dirty business of dispossession verge on caricature of the villainous. Yet he writes with a fierceness that inflames this personal story of one poor, simple woman and her neighbors in a shattering epic of social destruction. Gunn died in 1973. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994
Release date: 03/01/1994
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