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The Changeling by Robin Jenkins
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The Changeling (original 1958; edition 2010)

by Robin Jenkins

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834327,381 (4.11)2
A "witty, affecting novel" of a friendship between a troubled teenager and his well-meaning teacher--and the tragic path it sets them on (Financial Times). Thirteen-year-old Tom Curdie, the product of a Glasgow slum, is on probation for theft. His teachers admit that he is clever, but only one, Charlie Forbes, sees something in Tom and his seemingly insolent smile. So, Charlie's decides to take Tom on holiday with his own family...but his high-minded intentions lead to tragic consequences. From one of Scotland's greatest writers, The Changeling explores how goodness and innocence is compromised when faced with the pressures of growing up and becoming part of society. A modern Scottish classic, this edition includes an introduction by Alan Spence and an afterword by Andrew Marr.… (more)
Member:ChrisByrd
Title:The Changeling
Authors:Robin Jenkins
Info:Canongate Canons, Kindle Edition, 238 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

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The Changeling by Robin Jenkins (1958)

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The Changeling, by Scottish author Robin Jenkins (1912-2005) is an unsettling novel. I would dearly love to give a copy of it to every politician around the world who is turning a blind eye to poverty. Without a single sentimental word, Jenkins depicts the soul-destroying misery of childhood privation and dispenses with firm authority any fantasies of well-intentioned but useless help.

Charles Forbes is a middle-aged teacher in Glasgow. He's a well-meaning and kindly fool, mocked behind his back and protected at home by his tolerant wife Mary and his children Gillian and Alistair. And when he takes it into his head to Do a Good Deed for one of the slum children he teaches, he compares himself to the Good Samaritan.
Though no one would belittle the benevolence of the Good Samaritan, in one respect he was lucky: he was alone with his conscience and his neighbour in trouble.

There were, for instance, no business or professional colleagues to warn against the folly of interference, and no wife to cherish him for his altruism but also to shrewdly point out the likely repercussions. Those voices Charles Forbes had to heed on the occasion when he, too, decided not to pass by on the other side. (p.1)

His benevolent intentions are prompted by an essay by Tom Curdie. A bright child, whose academic ability transcends the appalling circumstances of his home life in the slums of Donaldson St, Tom has written a beautiful essay about the sea, and Mr Forbes is transfixed when Tom tells him that he has never seen the sea.

And from this scene the reader gets a first intimation of the complexity of this child character. When he says that he just made up his composition, and the disdainful class sneers at him like so many little Columbuses with the marvels and avarice of oceans in their eyes...he had lied. And he lied because he knew that they, and the teacher, were greedy for it. (p.2)

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2023/05/17/the-changeling-1958-reissued-1989-by-robin-j... ( )
  anzlitlovers | May 16, 2023 |
Opening among the tenement buildings of 1950s Glasgow, the story begins with well-meaning but slightly comical schoolmaster Charlie Forbes determining to do something for one of his charges. 13-year old Tom Curdie is possessed of a fierce intelligence, but his unsavory 'home' has propelled him into theft.

Resolving to invite him along on a family holiday to Bute, Forbes has to contend with a negative wife, critical mother-in-law and his own two jealous children.
But will this glimpse of a respectable home truly improve the child, or make it impossible to go back to the old life?
Skilful character portrayals. ( )
  starbox | Oct 31, 2018 |
I read this when I was about 18 or 19 and I thought it was excellent, one of those books that stays with you forever and changes your thought patterns for the better - or at least makes you want to try. ( )
  s_mcinally | Mar 18, 2007 |
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Though no one would belittle the benevolence of the Good Samaritan, in one respect he was lucky: he was alone with his conscience and his neighbour in trouble.
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Please note that "The Changeling" by Robin Jenkins is a different work than the book by Jerry J. Jenkins with the same title, and should therefore not be combined!
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A "witty, affecting novel" of a friendship between a troubled teenager and his well-meaning teacher--and the tragic path it sets them on (Financial Times). Thirteen-year-old Tom Curdie, the product of a Glasgow slum, is on probation for theft. His teachers admit that he is clever, but only one, Charlie Forbes, sees something in Tom and his seemingly insolent smile. So, Charlie's decides to take Tom on holiday with his own family...but his high-minded intentions lead to tragic consequences. From one of Scotland's greatest writers, The Changeling explores how goodness and innocence is compromised when faced with the pressures of growing up and becoming part of society. A modern Scottish classic, this edition includes an introduction by Alan Spence and an afterword by Andrew Marr.

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