The Novels (Masterplots II: British and Commonwealth Fiction Series)
Sunset Song, the first novel in the trilogy A Scots Quair, is certainly the best known and perhaps the most finely crafted of the three books. The reader becomes acquainted with Chris Guthrie as a young girl growing up on a small farm near Kinraddie. At an early age, she is a Chris divided (as Scotland is being divided): an English Chris and a Scottish Chris; a Chris who loves books and learning and culture and a Chris who loves the land and the sky and the roll of the seasons. This ongoing personal and social struggle is at the soul of all three novels.
After being sent to school and entertaining dreams of continuing her education and becoming a schoolteacher, Chris falls in love with and marries a young local crofter, Ewan Tavendale. With this decision, she realizes that she is happiest when she is working with the land and the natural world, and she settles into a nearly idyllic pastoral life with Ewan. In time, they have a son, and as they rear him and harvest their meager crops, they become detachedly aware of the approaching war. Determined to maintain their hard but safe life, they claim that the war and the outside world will have no effect on them, but in time, as friends enlist and are killed, and even the sheltering woods are cut down to provide for the war effort, Ewan himself angrily enlists. The war, so antithetical to his life and very nature, brutalizes Ewan until he is changed virtually beyond Chris’s recognition....
(The entire section is 1147 words.)
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