nineveh_uk (nineveh_uk) wrote,


I spent a very enjoyable weekend in Kirkby Lonsdale with my sisters, with parents driving over for Sunday lunch. It’s going to be less enjoyable cleaning the mud and cow pat off my walking shoes (there was a section of path in which I ended up to my ankles in the mire), but pleasure must be paid for. I’d never been to Kirkby before, and it’s a delightful small town, looking very Dickensian* in the twilight, with some good independent shops (alas, the cheese shop was closed for refurbishment) and a Booth’s. Like a lot of places it was painted by Turner. Doctor Who was watched in enthusiastic company, and we shared the pain of the cricket.

On the train I read Blood Hunt but Neil M. Gunn, which I bought a couple of years ago because I was attracted by the cover and blurb, but had never quite found the right moment to read. Now, of course, I wish I’d read it sooner. Published in 1952, it’s beautifully written, with vivid characters and a strong sense of place, and deserves to be better known. The protagonist is Sandy, a former seaman who has retired to a peaceful life in a highland croft, only to have it disturbed by violence after a murder is committed in the local town and the murderer, who he knew as a boy, comes to him for help. Sandy resents the intrusion, but recoils from the thought for the further loss of young life that must occur if the man is caught and hanged. By this point in his life, Gunn had become interested in Zen Buddhism and there is a certain amount of mysticism in Sandy’s reflection on death and life and the natural world. There’s also a good deal of humour in the story, and a certain earthiness. I saw the final resolution coming, but the process of getting there was more than satisfactory. I’ll certainly be reading more novels by Gunn.

*The picturesque rather than miserable variety of Dickensian.
Tags: books, real life
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