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Butcher's Broom [PDF / EPUB] Butcher's Broom Butcher's Broom is one of Gunn's epic recreations of a key period in Scottish history the Highland clearances of the nineteenth century Gunn captures the spirit of Highland culture the sense of commun Butcher's Broom is one of Gunn's epic recreations of a key period in Scottish history the Highland clearances of the nineteenth century Gunn captures the spirit of Highland culture the sense of community and tradition in a manner that speaks to our own timeAt the centre of the novel is Dark Mairi who embodies what is most vital and lasting in mankind whose values encapsulate what was lost in Scotland to make way for progress while her land was cleared to make way for wintering sheepThe weaving of traditional ballads with the lives of Gunn's characters evokes the community that must be destroyed Elie lost among strangers with her fatherless child while Seonaid defies the invaders fighting them from the roof of her croft This is among the most moving of Gunn's works and establishes the belief in a transcendent spirituality that would be so dominant in his later work.


About the Author: Neil M. Gunn

Neil Gunn one of Scotland's most prolific and distinguished novelists wrote over a period that spanned the Recession the political crises of the 's and 's and the Second World War and its aftermath Although nearly all his novels are set in the Highlands of Scotland he is not a regional author in the narrow sense of that description; his novels reflect a search for meaning in troub.



7 thoughts on “Butcher's Broom

  1. says:

    This is a long poetic and truly heartbreaking book about the Scottish Highland Clearances There's no doubt about where the author's sympathies lie; the villains are really really bad and the good guys are well uite humanI learned a lot by reading this book both about the Clearances and about how novels have changed since the 1930's which this was written It is very long The descriptive passages are beautiful but wordy You feel like you are suffering along with the Scots as things drag on and on and go from bad to much much worse Given the topic one wouldn't exactly expect a rosy endingThe book provides an easy way to learn history Although the text is admittedly slanted you almost enjoy the righteous indignation that inevitably rises up while reading


  2. says:

    Evocative would be the word I think Gunn treats the story of evicted crofters here with a very emotional and gut wrenching close lens I think it was excellently done weaving together drastically different viewpoints to highlight the tragedy and the inevitability of the change in society that resulted in many of the Clearances Some beautiful prose in here and some that I just let wash over me like Lewis Grassic Gibbons' meaning it was a little too far from my experience to understand the dialect but I just kept going and was rewarded with a satisfying if not happy conclusion


  3. says:

    A people and their history swept away in four parts and fifty years Horo Mhairi Dubh 5 Jan 2014 This review is from Butcher's Broom Modern Scottish classics Kindle Edition Ruscus aculeatus butcher's broom is a memberof the Liliaceae family It has tough green erect striatedstems that send out numerous short branches andvery rigid leaves that are actually extensions of the stemand terminate in a single sharp spine 's Broom as an herb appears in Gunn's magnificent novel but also serves as a metaphor for the treatment of the Highlanders after the Battle of Culloden in 1746 through the early 1800s by their English factors and landlords sometimes Clan chiefsNeil M Gunn was born in the Highlands county of Caithness and so had a personal interest in the brutal interruption of the Clan way of life an abrupt end to agriculture and a forced reliance on fish and seaweed collection along the coastIn fact a factor Mr Elder discusses some of Gunn's ancestors the MacHamish family There's only one bad nest of them and they're up on the Heights MacHamishes a sept of the Gunns thoroughly godless dangerous ruffians There are some Gunns too but they'll be evicted first of all because they know enough to organise the Strath and they would All that lot live by breaking the lawThese are the Gaelic speakers of Scotland so not only a way of life was desecrated but also a language was largely obliterated Their story is much like that of the Native Americans in the United States They were literally burned out of their homes the sick and elderly left to die of smoke inhalation in their thatched cottages The people who were not initially butchered later suffered from previously unknown diseases introduced by the large scale sheep farmers replacing humans with sheepGunn writes in some of the most beautiful and lyrical prose you are ever likely to find in a book about these incidents but makes them personal in the characters of Dark Mairi Elidh Davie Colin Colin's son Kirsteen and their neighborsOf Dark Mairi of the shore he writes The fire danced in tiny spots on her black irises Yet she did not seem to see the sky so much as listen to it; or listen to nothing so still did she become for a time Then a small sighing wind came down the hillside and from her mouth and vague concern for her cow touched her She got up put her basket over by the meal chest and went out Her name comes from an old Highland songThe stars are shining cheerily cheerilyHoro Mhairi dhu turn ye to meThe sea mew's moaning drearily drearilyHoro Mhairi dhu turn ye to meCold is the stormwind that ruffles the breastBut warm are the downy plumes lining its nestCold blows the storm thereSoft falls the snow thereHoro Mhairi dhu turn ye to meDark Mary turn ye to meDark Mairi and Murach had the second sight Usually persons with second sight are normal enough in every other way But Seumas was a strange being and when the others forgot him Davie and Kirsteen remained sensitive to his alien presence Dark Mairi is a healer who knows the plants lichens mosses of the glens as well as she knows the back of her hand Indeed in her steady unthinking darkness she might have walked out of a mountain and might walk into it again leaving no sign The sick man had looked at her with expectation She asked him uestions uietly She smiled her small weak smile She put her hand on his forehead Her hand was very cold Her smile did not touch her eyes at all She was not concerned She would soon put him all rightShe could not however heal the great dislocation about to befall her people I did not want to reach the sea again at the end of this novel not only because I knew what would happen but also because the language was so wonderfulLady Elizabeth Gordon her factor Mr Sellar and the organized church are the villains in this novel although their names have been changed to protect the guilty all while the young able men of the Highlands had gone off to fight on behalf of this corrupt aristocracy Patrick Sellar was tried for his role in the atrocities and found not guilty in 1816From a people thus described peat on limbs and faces the bodies leaping and spinning in the circles of music under a sky with stars paling to the east where a waning moon was thinking of rising upon her kingdom; here was than the joy of the dance something added to the mystery of the rhythm a beat in the blood; freedom from walls freedom from rules; escape caught in its own delirious toils between fire and music The music put its frenzy in the boys so that they could not leave the fire alone Out of the dark they came running with peats from the nearest stacks with the guitt of half theft stinging their mirth They would make a fire as big as the world and blind the moon and stars To a defeated people thus described But Mr Heller glanced at Mr James and smiled also `What a handful of half starved savages in the lost glens of the north may say is nowhere Yet that is our business and when talking to us he will make it his'This is a story which will take your imagination captive and especially if you have roots in the Gaelic North of Scotland or in Ireland you owe it to yourself to read this novel Neil M Gunn is one of the few authors I have read to note the irony of the Gaelic Highlanders sent to Ireland to uash dissent and the Gaelic Irish sent to Scotland to uash dissent all among their ethnic cousins It proved an interesting reflection that the soldiers from these glens who some dozen years before had marched away to the wars had seen their first service in Ireland where a rebellion against His Majesty's kingdom was being ruthlessly stamped out And now here was a regiment of Irish being marched into the Northern Highlands to even the balance of immortal justice So naturally these Irish were eager for the fray than Mr Heller or any of his prompters for they came muttering of their own defeats and wrongs of Tarrahill and Ballynamuck The bloody Highlanders The bloody Irish


  4. says:

    I heard about this book from a course I took on the Scottish Highlands The story is of the Highland clearances where the culture of the Highland laird taking care of his people turned to economics and personal riches People were literally swept off land their families had held for generations to make way for sheep Gunn writes of one community rich cast of characters that was impacted It is a sad chapter of history


  5. says:

    Set during the Highland Clearances when people were forced to leave their crofts and move out to the coast replacing them with sheep to feed and clothe the populace Sad and shameful times


  6. says:

    I found this hard going but a gripping account of the trials and tribulations of the clearances


  7. says:

    A book about the clash between a dying culture and the one that is replacing it


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