The Guynd: A Scottish Journal

Belinda Rathbone, Author Quantuck Lane Press $23.95 (289p) ISBN 978-1-59372-015-5
As Rathbone tells it, when she got married it wasn't so much to a man as to his ancestral house in Scotland-the Guynd of the title-and the deeply ingrained way of life that came with it. Her attitude toward the enormous project of restoring the manor while also figuring out and trying to fit in with the clannish Scots is at turns enthusiastic and exasperated, and her anecdotes about the renovation, from massive hedge-trimming and garden rehabilitation to a reupholstering undertaking of gargantuan proportions, will have home improvement fanatics mad with jealousy. The writing is vivid, but unlike in her acclaimed 1995 biography of Walker Evans, Rathbone here leaves out much of her interior life, so the reader witnesses, to varying degrees, her disintegrating marriage and the fervor with which she rehabs the old house, but her reticence to turn her gaze inward hampers any emotional connection with the reader. Thoughtful descriptions of her attempts to understand her Scottish neighbors sometimes distract from this, but for the most part she and the narrative are tied to the Guynd, and the result is as frustrating and fascinating for the reader as the actual experience was for her.
Reviewed on: 10/10/2005
Release date: 10/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 293 pages - 978-1-59372-025-4
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