Reviews of The Shrew

A really good read
I have just recently read `The Shrew` by Nicholas Gordon. Its about one of the best books I have read in ages. The author really knows his stuff on the subject of game shooting and the present problems it faces along with the pressures on the countryside and its sports in general. I suppose its the `Wither this Land` by William Venator of game shooting, but a lot easier to read and to the point. Its got a superb storyline and its not easy to put down once you start reading; so it was a good job its a fairly short book. There are some chapters that are just too vivid to cope with at times, the imagery is superb. There are sections that I think even Stephen King would be proud of. The book would appeal to anyone who enjoys a good mystery/crime or thriller novel; although it is set in the countryside and makes a lot of political observations it is in general a really good read for anyone no matter what their interest or viewpoint. It keeps you guessing right up to the last chapter and beyond.
A review written by James Morris on 03 Sep 2013
The Shrew is a fascinating and intriguing book for so many reasons. It's simple title conceals a very dramatic, mysterious and traumatic tale. Is the Shrew the little inconsequential mammal that appears at the beginning or the end or he the central. lonely and desperate character of the book; fighting with all his limited resources for all he holds dear and his very existence? Although it is largely based in rural England it also takes the reader to the dusty plains of South Africa, the steamy heat of the Amazon and the luxurious relaxed life of the Bahamas. It is a book that describes the great contrast between the lives of the `have` and the `have nots` and the total lack of care some of those that have recently come upon their wealth and are determined to have more no matter what the consequences. The rapid pace and exciting plot of the book carry the reader along as the tale twists and turns all the way through. There are no tedious long sections of `infill` to draw the tale out and make the book look bigger than it needs to be. I thoroughly enjoyed it and it was great to meet Nicholas at the book signing at Welshpool; his passion for his subject is very infectious.
A review written by Diane Chambers on 03 Sep 2013
I have just read finished reading The Shrew and its perhaps one of the most original tales I have ever read. The book was difficult to put down once I had started on it and I am now hoping impatiently that Nicholas will write a sequel to The Shrew or another completely new book; I really enjoyed his writing style. It was great to find something totally new in the world of novels.
A review written by Roger L. Stephens on 03 Sep 2013
Well worth reading
The wretched book had me in tears most of the way through it. Don't read this if you want a `feel good` novel, it's just too sad and real; it describes some of life's injustices with such accuracy that you can feel the anger welling up inside you at times. I felt like I wanted to do something about it all as the story unfolded. I can recommend this as a novel well worth reading. I would like to see it as a film one day.
A review written by Jane Lewis on 03 Sep 2013
This is a good read and is well written
I live in Lincolnshire, which is a big shooting county and many people living in rural areas here are quite familiar with the work of gamekeepers, because they are to be found working on most estates either single-handedly, like the one in the book, or sometimes as a beat-keeper under a head-keeper. All of them are usually a breed apart and tend to keep themselves to themselves, living more or less by their own rules. They are usually loners and work some very odd hours. On the very large estates they often all go to the same pub and otherwise have the unnerving habit of keeping fairly invisible, yet they know a great deal more about what is going on locally than anyone might reasonably think. This book is a novel and I am guessing it is the author’s first one. Very little in the way of background notes came to me with the book, so I was surprised to discover just how much I actually enjoyed it. It is not a long novel and in fact I read it in two days, partly because it was difficult to put down once started. The author obviously writes about a subject he either knows much about, or has researched well, and the story is a good one and well thought through. The book essentially tells about a single-handed gamekeeper on an old estate which has seen much better days and in which the present young owner, after inheriting the estate, has developed other interests and begun to neglect his inheritance. The old story, I suppose, of clogs to clogs in three generations. He being the third. There are black clouds looming on the horizon and an unsympathetic, non-shooting agent managing the estate on the owner’s behalf does nothing to help make the gamekeeper’s life any easier. Some quite forbidding events occur and the reader is never sure of their source until the last few pages. In this respect, it is much like a Dick Francis novel. The book is well researched and moves not only about the estate itself (there is a helpful map of the estate provided) but also to South Africa and to South America in an interesting and convincing way. This is a good read and is well written. The characterisation and the plot are excellent, although I have to say that I did find that the eventual explanation of the forbidding events stretched credibility a little. Nevertheless, it left me wanting to read more. I hope other books from this author, an obvious countryman, are forthcoming.
A review written by David Hindle on 03 Sep 2013
A good mystery
A review written by Phil Curlin on 03 Sep 2013
Extremely vivid imagary
Set on what remains of a once extensive game shoot on a declining great estate, the shrew tells the dark and haunting tale of a solitary gamekeeper trying to protect his livelihood and traditional rural lifestyle against an unknown and largely unseen malevolent force that is set against him. Victor Drew the central character of the book is the real `shrew` in the tale, like the tiny solitary mammal, he shows his true determination and aggression when faced with impossible odds. The other characters in the book are very realistic and developed with a great understanding of the intricacies of how individuals of all social levels interact through field sports such as shooting and hunting. The unwelcome visitors to the estate who are the source of Victor’s problems are described with an unnerving accuracy and far too deep a knowledge for the reader to be comfortable with. If Thomas Hardy was still around in the 21st century, I could imagine producing similar tales. This is Nicholas Gordon\'s first novel and it provides a very deep and profound insight into his feelings about the countryside and many of the problems it currently faces. Not only does it provide some excellent observations of the sport of shooting both past and present; it also has the elements of a good thriller and crime novel. Anyone with an interest in the countryside in general is likely to find it an interesting and absorbing read. Far from being bland political statement; the book is a finely crafted tale with an intriguing and at times very disturbing plot and so in many ways it should have wide appeal. The imagery in the book is extremely vivid, it is clear that Gordon\'s writing is based on his real life experiences. The fine detail of events and scenes is very informative and the reader could almost be there with him and the tale roles on at a cracking pace towards its surprising and tragic end and The chapters outside the UK are excellent and at times it almost becomes a travel book; such is the accuracy of its research, this shows in the descriptions of events during a big game hunt in South Africa and a contrived business trip to the Amazon in Ecuador. I was put in mind of a reincarnation of Hemmingway at times.
A review written by George Lewis on 03 Sep 2013
Excellent book
An excellent book for lovers of country life, with an exceptional attention to detail showing a deep understanding and love of its infrastructure, warts and all. It deals with both a reflection on past glories and changing times equally but without sentimentality through the eyes of its characters: nothing is permanent, and all things change however much the characters might wish otherwise.
A review written by Val Cornish on 03 Sep 2013
A great story
What a great story The Shrew is! Gordon is obviously a man who himself is close to the land, and out from his closeness to nature he tells a tale of the cruel theft of a man’s livelihood. The Shrew is a story about sabotage: lives, whether they be human or animal. It is a fine example of how ancient and passionate traditions are disappearing in Britain and are being forced into history, insignificant to the greater many and remembered only by the few. I enjoyed reading The Shrew, and like all good books that find a permanent home on my bookcase, I shall take great joy in reading it again.
A review written by Deborah Berkeley on 03 Sep 2013
There is much here to interest many people
This book grabbed my attention from the first sentence, with its combination of tight writing, fast paced action, and yet sensitive characterisation. The theme is partly a protest against those who do not understand the part field sports can play in preserving wildlife. However, the author displays a grim realism about contemporary society and the way the global economy impacts on the environment and traditional ways of life, not only in rural England but in other parts of the world. Indeed, things turn out not so simple as they first appear when the embattled gamekeeper, Victor, receives a menacing letter apparently from animal rights activists. In addition to sharp description of the countryside and field sports, the book provides thriller/mystery and good sociological insight. There is much here to interest many people.
A review written by Stephen O'Kane on 03 Sep 2013