The Cone-Gatherers, Paperback Book

The Cone-Gatherers Paperback

Part of the Canons series

3.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


In the shadow of a war that rages through Europe, brothers Calum and Neil work to gather pine cones in the grounds of a Scottish estate.

When Calum releases two mutilated rabbits from a snare, he comes face to face with Duror, the gamekeeper.

In retaliation, in the depths of the wood, Duror lays a trap for the cone-gatherers.Neil prophesises that forces of evil will encroach upon the harmony of their lives.

It is a prophesy that comes true when Duror commits an act so brutal it destroys all sense of humanity in the once thriving wood.

Powerful and unforgettable, Robin Jenkins' masterpiece is a haunting story of love and violence, and an investigation of class-conflict, war and envy.


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The cone-gatherers of the title are two labourers on a Scottish estate during the Second World War, who spend their days gathering pine-cones from the treetops so that the forest can one day be replanted after being cut down for lumber to help the war effort. A job so unexpected and remote from modern-day life that it sometimes felt like reading about men in a sci-fi novel performing some incomprehensible and repetitive task on an alien world.It's very efficiently written, with not a word or comma wasted. The setting is so isolated and self-contained, and the characters so richly symbolic, that the novel teeters on the edge of allegory – and there is also a looming sense of disaster that meant I wasn't quite sure, as I read it, if I was really enjoying the experience. But there are many deep, lapidary sentences in here to mull over, and the layers of symbolism can't fail to set off at least a few interesting chains of thought. As I read the final extraordinary line of the book, I suddenly realised I was extremely moved by it.

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