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The Testament of Gideon Mack by James…
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The Testament of Gideon Mack (original 2006; edition 2008)

by James Robertson

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Title:The Testament of Gideon Mack
Authors:James Robertson
Info:Penguin (Non-Classics) (2008), Paperback, 400 pages
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The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson (2006)

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Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
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 vote calm | Jun 24, 2011 |
Fantasy dealing with the devil that reads like non-fiction. Very well done. ( )
  mhgatti | Jan 12, 2011 |
I have to say I had high hopes for this book as it had been recommended by a friend whose literary taste I trust. Unfortunately I just couldn't get into it. I completed the book, I understood the concepts and philosophies being illustrated by the author. Perhaps if such thoughts were considered vaguely radical by me, I would have enjoyed it more. It is a thesis on the questioning of faith, and of what faith is in the first place. It is a questioning of the nature of God, and of course Old Nick. It is a questioning of the importance, or lack thereof of family, of friends, of free thought and freedom. I can see a lot of people enjoying this book and getting a lot from it. The literary style didn't do much for me, but I have to say that that does not mean it is a bad book. Don't be put off because I don't like it. I'll still be recommending it to a couple of people! ( )
  BeeQuiet | Sep 12, 2010 |
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
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 necesary to offer a word of explanation as to its provenance.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 014102335X, Paperback)

If the devil didn't exist, would man have to invent him? For Gideon Mack, faithless minister, unfaithful husband and troubled soul, the existence of God, let alone the Devil, is no more credible than that of ghosts or fairies. Until the day he falls into a gorge and is rescued by someone who might just be Satan himself. Mack's testament - a compelling blend of memoir, legend, history and, quite probably, madness - recounts one man's emotional crisis, disappearance, resurrection and death. It also transports you into an utterly mesmerising exploration of the very nature of belief.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:32:36 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Mack is a minister who doesn't believe in God, the Devil or an afterlife. One day he discovers a standing stone in the middle of a wood where previously there had been none. Unsure what to make of this apparition, Mack's life begins to unravel dramatically.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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