MATTHEW RATTON by Anne Knowles


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When his older brother was killed in a farm-tractor accident, sensitive young Matthew Ratton had to give up dreams of a world beyond farming and devote himself to helping his rough father with their sheep-farm. But now, a decade later, the farm has been mined by the fire which also killed Matthew's beloved sheepdog; Matthew's father has died; and Matthew himself, half of his face hideously scarred by the fire, has become a moody recluse. So this small, cozily predictable novel charts Matthew's recovery over the next year or so--effected largely through two loves. The first is his love for a collie pup discarded by nice neighbors John and Peggy Davey (they think it's dead): Matthew nurses the weak, blind pup, calls it Jet, trains it to be a first-class sheepdog. And then there's jet-hopping neighbor girl Mary West, who sometimes goes tiding by: Matthew scornfully considers her a flighty deb. . . until she skillfully helps him with the problematic delivery of a heifer calf. (He later learns that her farflung ""holidays"" are spent nursing in refugee transit camps.) So, despite Matthew's self-consciousness about his scars, love slowly blooms--especially when Matthew falls ill--and he eventually becomes social enough to take Jet to a sheepdog contest. No surprises, then; and the Matthew/Mary relationship, resentment turning to love, sometimes seems as clichÉd as any Regency romance. But it's all quiet and modest, with enough veterinary detail and sheepdip atmosphere to hold some appeal for the Herriot audience.

Pub Date: Aug. 11th, 1981
Publisher: St. Martin's