Breed of Giants : A novel by Joyce Stranger : Illustrated by David Rook
New York : The Viking Press, 1967. First Edition. First Printing. Hardcover. 209 pages ; illustrated ; 22 cm. Storage odor within pages. Price-clipped dust jacket. Small section of the flyleaf has been clipped away. A touch of foxing to the rear endpaper. Pages are unmarked. Binding sound..
Breed of Giants
When Joyce Stranger's first novel, The Running Foxes, appeared in this country, Orville Prescott wrote in The New York Times, "It is written with simple feeling and impressive authority ... its charm is undeniable and its appeal fresh, wholesome and attractive." Readers of that book and newcomers as well will delight in this book set again in the Cumberland fells of England's lake country. Miss Stranger's small universe of Bruton-under-the-Water is a marvelously fitting background for this triumphant affirmation of life as symbolized by the Shire horses, the magnificent heavy animals who carried armored English knights into battle and tilled the land that raised a great nation.
Josh Johnson is the local inhabitant who has devoted a lifetime to his Bruton stud, and now it seems he will be rewarded for his efforts, for his horses are at their peak and he should at last sweep all the prizes at the Cantchester show. Then abruptly his luck changes. The great Bruton Jet suffers a bite on his leg from a wild creature, which leads to his destruction. Josh is convinced that old Brock the badger is the culprit and he swears vengeance. Soon it seems the obsession will poison the happiness of Josh and his wife, Peg. In hunting the badger, inept and malevolent Jo Needier sets in train a series of disastrous events which culminate in the death, of Peg's pet mare. At the same time, the luck of Jasper Ayepenny and the Huntsman, and of many of the other villagers, seems to be taking a turn for the worse in this Bad Year.
However, life does go on, and it is in depicting these warm everyday facets of life that Joyce Stranger's lucent skills come strongly to the fore. In the joys and crises of a local fair, in the good talk at the Swan—the local pub and the focus of much of Bruton life—in the compassion of a teacher for a slow-witted child or of a vet for his mute patients, in the ways of beast, both tame and wild, and of nature, cruel and splendid, the very warp and woof of life in rural England glow through. In the end it is ordinary courage and determination which turn the luck of Bruton around.
JOYCE STRANGER, born in London, now lives in Cheshire in northern England with her husband and three teenage children. A graduate of London University, she is a research chemist, but now spends her time writing. Besides her numerous contributions to English literary and nature magazines, she writes for the Manchester Evening News and has previously published two children's books as well as the adult novel The Running Foxes.
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