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Witch Wood by John Buchan
  

Witch Wood

Historical Fiction   Thriller / Suspense   eBook Favourites   
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This was John Buchan's favourite novel and an inspiration for the young C S Lewis. It's a terrifying portrait of a cruel and intolerant age set against the backdrop of the Covenanting time. Its main character David Semphill must choose between his God, his beliefs and the woman he loves. As the local minister he must lead a community that is drifting towards religious extremes. As a man he must watch the woman he loves caught up in accusations of black magic. The veneer of God-fearing respectability becomes thinner and thinner in an increasingly intolerant age.

From the Introduction by Allan Massie in Witch Wood:

'Buchan was at ease in the seventeenth century, and of all his novels Witch Wood was the most ambitious, the longest pondered, and, with the exception of Sick Heart River, written in the last months of his life, the most deeply felt.

Buchan thought Witch Wood the best of his novels, and, though it has never been the most popular, he was right. It goes deeper than anything else he wrote. If it is first and foremost a historical novel, exploring in the manner of Scott and the mature Stevenson, a significant moment in Scottish history, and offering a study of Scottish society, and of the ideology which dominated that society and formed the historical character of the Scottish people, it is also a book which raises questions - disturbing questions - about human nature, about our capacity for self-deception, and about the consequences of repressing certain elements of that nature. Buchan's contemporary Ford Maddox Ford held that the best imaginative literature has the power, denied in his view in other art forms, to make us think and feel at the same time. Witch Wood - more that anything else Buchan wrote - has that power. Like all great novels it makes a strong first impression, draws you to read it a second and third time, and reveals more at each subsequent reading. '

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Synopsis

Witch Wood by John Buchan

David Semphill is being torn apart. Young and idealistic, his loyalty to his King conflicts with his Covenanting sympathies which are, in turn, tested by the brutality he witnesses towards Montrose's beaten army. When black magic in uncovered in the ancient 'Witch Wood' as a man of God he must fight it, but his love for the beautiful, pagan Katrine and the religious extremism of the time puts him at the centre of a deadly spiral.

Reviews

'Buchan knew that you can't buck the consequences of your actions, and that your life is what you make of it. Perhaps his peculiarly Scottish combination of Romanticism and Calvinism - daring living and high thinking - is due to return to fashion.' - The Independent Magazine

About the Author

John Buchan

John Buchan led a truly extraordinary life: he was a diplomat, soldier, barrister, journalist, historian, politician, publisher, poet and novelist. He was born in Perth in 1875, the eldest son of a Free Church of Scotland minister, and educated at Hutcheson’s Grammar School in Glasgow. He graduated from Glasgow University then took a scholarship to Brasenose College, Oxford. During his time there – ‘spent peacefully in an enclave like a monastery’ – he wrote two historical novels.

In 1901 he became a barrister of the Middle Temple and a private secretary to the High Commissioner for South Africa. In 1907 he married Susan Charlotte Grosvenor; they had three sons and a daughter. After spells as a war correspondent, Lloyd George’s Director of Information and a Conservative MP, Buchan – now Sir John Buchan, Baron Tweedsmuir of Elsfield - moved to Canada in 1935 where he had been appointed Governor-General.

Despite poor health throughout his life, Buchan’s literary output was remarkable – thirty novels, over sixty non-fiction books, including biographies of Sir Walter Scott and Oliver Cromwell, and seven collections of short stories. In 1928 he won the prestigious James Tait Black Memorial Prize, Britain’s oldest literary prize for his biography of the Marquis of Montrose. Buchan’s distinctive thrillers – ‘shockers’ as he called them – were characterised by suspenseful atmosphere, conspiracy theories and romantic heroes, notably Richard Hannay (based on the real-life military spy William Ironside) and Sir Edward Leithen. Buchan was a favourite writer of Alfred Hitchcock, whose screen adaptation of The Thirty-Nine Steps was phenomenally successful.

John Buchan served as Governor-General of Canada until his death in 1940, the year his autobiography Memory Hold-the-door was published. His last novel Sick Heart River was published posthumously in 1941.

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Book Info

Publication date

15th August 2008

Author

John Buchan

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Author's Website

www.johnbuchansociety.co.uk...

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Publisher

Polygon An Imprint of Birlinn Limited an imprint of Birlinn General

Format

Paperback
352 pages

Categories

Historical Fiction
Thriller / Suspense
eBook Favourites

Classic fiction (pre c 1945)

ISBN

9781846970719

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