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The Testament of Gideon Mack (2006)

de James Robertson

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9283122,957 (3.77)32
Mack is a minister who doesn't believe in God, the Devil or an afterlife. Until one day, when he falls into a gorge and is rescued by someone who might just be Satan himself.
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Es mostren 1-5 de 31 (següent | mostra-les totes)
I find it hard to know what to say about this because the story is really about a pretty ordinary life - obviously the devil meeting story is important but it's a small part of the story and you shouldn't go in expecting much fantasy type stuff. It's a fictional memoir of an ordinary person, a particular way of life, a particular location, told from a maybe not completely reliable perspective. The events are mostly pretty ordinary yet the writing makes them really come alive and it's easy to get emotionally wrapped up in it, feel all the little details which feel real. Along the way there's a good amount of thoughts and conversations about "deep" questions - eg does god exist, what does it mean to believe, what should life be about, how we relate to stories, what history means today, what sort of life you should choose, the way life inevitably involves "settling" for stuff that's not your ideal. It's all done in a very natural style that doesn't feel out of place or pretentious and it's all pretty interesting and thought provoking. It's hard to get across the feel and plot of the book because so much relies on very good writing and well thought out scenes. I just think it's really good if the description takes your fancy, as long as you're willing to read more about the life of the minister than that of the devil (although that bit is very very good too). Highly recommended, very human, very emotional, very sad, very thought provoking. There's lots of questions I could think of about the plot but it wraps itself up well enough and the questions are interesting to think about - how much "really" happened within the story? what was going on in Gideon Mack's mind? It's very good anyway ( )
  tombomp | Oct 31, 2023 |
James Robertson is as good as any other author in making up an imaginary person's life story and setting it against changing historical background so that it fits in quite naturally, however untypical the character and his life may be. The link to Hogg's Justified Sinner is not nearly as strong as some critics would have us believe, but that does nothing to diminish the book's readability, or the perspicacity of its observations on human lives and mentality. I was a bit cross with the main character when he hijacked an old friend's funeral for a purpose of his own, but then we all make mistakes, and if you get cross with the hero, then obviously the author succeeded in making you engrossed ... ( )
  Stravaiger64 | Apr 12, 2020 |
Goodreads doesn't actually allow me to give half stars, because honestly I feel this was a 3.5. I couldn't quite give it a 4, but I also don't think the 3 does it justice.



The premise of this book intrigued me so much that I clicked a couple buttons on my nook and bought it without a second thought. The plot of the story centers on Gideon Mack, a faithless minister who has a near-death experience which culminates in a meeting with the devil.

There were places that I thought this novel was highly engaging, and other times it read like a bad memoir, but for the most part I did find it to be highly imaginative. I think the reason I am able to look past some of the less-than-perfect parts of this story is that it is written entirely in Gideon’s perspective, besides some ‘publisher’s notes’ thrown in here and there, so the reader only gets to see what he wants us to see. Although he insists it is an honest account of his life, we do find out near the end that he did lie about his affair with his best friend’s wife. How many other things did Gideon falsify in his story? The reader is left to figure these things out on their own. This is what makes it so fascinating. Did Gideon actually suffer from a mental breakdown? It’s highly possible. But wait... what about the devil’s trainers that came back with him? I love chilling and supernatural stories, so I am under the impression that yes, Gideon did meet and connect with the devil.

*I actually loved the character of the devil (typical Amanda, basically), and just wish we were given more time with him. I thought that his reflections of god were great; implying that god has pretty much taken a leave of absence.*

All in all, I enjoyed it. I didn’t love it, and I am not going to ask anyone else to read it. I will leave you with one quote that I think is relevant to life, though. “...he was there or he was not there, whether you believed in him or not. I happened not to believe in him, but he was still there. And that was the twist: even if he didn’t exist, he would still get you, sooner or later.( )
  raisedbybooks | Mar 12, 2014 |
Not as strong as some of Robertson's earlier books which have more of a historical bent. I was expecting it to be a bit more like James Hogg's 'Justified Sinner'. A bit more psychological. There was a bit too much exposition in it, and I think the device of the standing stone was ultimately wasted. I do like the idea of landscapes having stories attached to them that live on in folk memory,but the story never quite gelled for me. ( )
  dylkit | Feb 3, 2014 |
I really enjoyed this slice of life. Born to a dour Presbyterian minister Gideon doesn't believe in God but somehow his life path takes him into the church but after his alleged meeting with the devil his life takes yet another twist. Supposedly a manuscript is found, bookended by the publisher's decision to put it in to print and some interviews by the investigative journalist of people who knew the author. Is the Testament true, is Gideon Mack as the narrator reliable? A modern day Church of Scotland minister claiming to have met the Devil is certainly unusual.

I think part of what makes this book is the affection I had for Gideon through his life. Robertson has managed to create a sympathetic character and brought to life the various communities he lives in - whether his childhood home, his university years or the village where he eventually becomes the minister. Good supporting characters, a thought provoking plot and just a very good read. ( )
1 vota calm | Jun 24, 2011 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 31 (següent | mostra-les totes)
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Black Rock of Kiltearn

They named it Aultgraat - Ugly Burn,
This water through the crevice hurled
Scouring the entrails of the world -
Not ugly in the rising smoke
That clothes it with a rainbow cloak.
But slip a foot on frost-spiked stone
Above this rock-lipped Phlegethon
And you shall have
The Black Rock of Kiltearn
For tombstone, grave
And trumpet of your resurrection. - Andrew Young
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For Marianne, with love and thanks
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In presenting to the world the following strange narrative, I find it necessary to offer a word of explanation as to its provenance.
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Mack is a minister who doesn't believe in God, the Devil or an afterlife. Until one day, when he falls into a gorge and is rescued by someone who might just be Satan himself.

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