BOSWELL & SON by Donald McDougall


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McDougall's mild tale of young Scots golfer Davie (1977) was easy to take because its span and scope were so affably modest; but this is a lumpy, underdone three-generational concoction (1870-1921) revolving around the lonely art of designing and producing golf clubs and the occasional virtuoso use of same on Scotland's mighty links. Jellied in stage Scots dialect (""Well, whit dae ye think o' yer gaffer nee?""), the saga of the artisan Boswells begins with blacksmith Boswell's son, Jeemie, who's an artful iron-forger but dreads a career of hoisting hooves for local farmers--and finds he can create marvelously efficient clubs for the increasingly popular game. Married to avaricious Mary, who controls the family smithy, Jeemie mourns the lack of a son until he discovers the existence of the boy Rab, his own hitherto-unknown illegitimate. And it's the adult Rab who, after his father's accidental death, tends the booming business, evades Mary's hateful domination, and marries twice. Product of his brief marriage to a lovely, flighty part-Indian woman is Jeemie II, who will, with Rab and his second wife, carry on the craft on new and lucrative turf in America. Minimal golf action and bland as an oatcake--and the club-making lore was all there in the tighter, sweeter Davie.

Pub Date: Nov. 17th, 1978
Publisher: St. Martin's