Gideon Mack is a Scottish Minister, a man of the cloth. Indeed the son of a man of the cloth. But he doesn’t believe in God.
His Dad of the cloth was an absolute bastard and that probably contributed to his lie of a life.
Awkwardly, he also fancies his best mate’s wife and, more importantly, and centrally to the story, falls into a river near the fictional Scottish village of Monimaskit – where a raging river flows under it.
In trying to save a dog, who wanders too close to the edge of the canyon that carries the torrent into the unknown, Mack slips and falls to his death. Or so the villagers think.
In fact, he survives the fall and meets, in an underground cavern, that the raging river takes us to, The Devil, with whom he strikes up an agreeable relationship before returning to his kinsfolk three days later, bruised and bloodied, but very much alive.
What follows is Mack’s difficult reconciliation of his shot-to-pieces faith, the retelling of his unlikely story that nobody believes and the death of an old friend.
James Robertson’s tale is a stirring Scottish romp through the double-standards of the Scots’ particularly Calvinist take on Christianity, duty, sanity and illicit love.
It’s a terrific yarn with much to recommend although I think it found its level on the Booker Prize Long List; any further would have been to have exalted it a little above its station.
Nevertheless, a most agreeable read. Reasonably strongly recommended.