The White Cutter

David Pownall, Author Viking Books $18.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-670-82579-0
The shocking act of parricide and a tapestry of circumstances leading to the deed drive this fascinating but uneven novel set against the backdrop of the mid-13th century. Narrator Hedric Herbertson, raised haphazardly by his roue stonemason father, Bert, learns resourcefulness as an apprentice white cutter whose childhood is spent on sites of cathedrals and castles in Britain and Ireland. Hedric's own talent and ambition is inspired by his father's failure to create a new architectural style; the son, consuming his father's knowledge, shows signs of eclipsing the senior mason. The pair's itinerant life gives rise to wildly imaginative incidentssuch as Hedric's violent run-in with cannibalistic Carthusian monks. Symbolism abounds, and the theological underpinning of Hedric's lifeskilfully and at times startlingly rendered by the authoris the light/dark duality of the Albigensian heretic. If the cast of historical celebrities suddenly becomes a bit unwieldy toward the end of the narrative, it only shows by contrast that this author (of five previous novels published in the U.K.) writes most effectively in Hedric's finely etched musings on architecture, and in the convincing portrayal of a relationship between father and son. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/01/1989
Release date: 02/01/1989
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-14-011730-1
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