CAT, HERSELF by Mollie Hunter
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CAT, HERSELF

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An acclaimed Scottish weaver of tales has written a new novel of coming-of-age to rival her popular A Sound of Chariots and Hold on to Love. Catriona (""Cat"") McPhie is a traveller, one of a group of gypsy-like itinerants gleaning a meager living from crafts and trading as they journey through Scotland. The rather slow first half of her story is a gentle portrait of a people close to nature and one another. But with setting established and Cat grown, the story suddenly becomes a dramatic exposition of life's basics: a lengthy, poetic and graphic account of the birth of Cat's brother; a tragic attack on the traveller's camp by hoodlums motivated by prejudice; marriage and first love-making. Traditional events in a traditional, paternalistic world, but Cat is traditional with a difference. She's been taught her father's skills, braving the epithet ""split mechanic"": a girl who does boy's work. Ever dauntless when bespoken in marriage by Charlie, whom she's known her whole life, she defies convention and bargains for terms which will give her more than traditional autonomy and self-respect. Hunter has woven another spellbinder, with sharply drawn characters and the portrayal of a particular human situation that illuminates the universal human condition.

Pub Date: April 25th, 1986
Publisher: Harper & Row