The Silver Bough

Neil Miller Gunn, Author Walker & Company $22.95 (328p) ISBN 978-0-8027-1089-5
Well known in his native Scotland, Gunn's imaginative works are beginning to appear in the U.S. This novel, written in 1948, is the third issued by Walker, following Blood Hunt and Key of the Chest . The complex plot fuses Gunn's fascination with archeology and spiritual themes. Archeologist Simon Grant arrives in a Scottish village to excavate a prehistoric burial cairn. Assisted by Andie, a simple, almost mute young man of great strength, Grant soon discovers the skeletons of a mother and child, then a huge crock of gold. When the gold disappears, Grant assumes that Andie has hidden it in a primitive attempt to protect the treasure. The ensuing search through the Scottish highlands becomes a spiritual quest for Grant, linking ancient times with the life around him. Gunn's prose is rich and lyrical, and his characters reflect his intellectual curiosity--debating science, history, philosophy, religion, in wide-ranging asides that, while engaging, sometimes slow the narrative. On the whole, however, this intricately constructed tale, with its deliberate references to Frazier's classic The Golden Bough , is a provocative work that should serve to interest more American readers in a significant 20th-century author. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/01/1989
Release date: 08/01/1989
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