Alan Garner’s Thursbitch was such a delight that I opened Strandloper with rare excitement. I was not disappointed. Garner writes with brilliant, bare precision, even if he can demand much of his readers.
As the cover tells us, the essence of the plot is the true story of William Buckley, a Cheshire bricklayer who was unjustly deported to Australia in 1801, escaped, and lived for 31 years with the Aborigines. Garner weaves together Cheshire folklore and Aboriginal spiritualism in separate melodies that blend to create a single harmony. This beautiful and moving tale is not always an easy read; old Cheshire dialect is as obscure as Aboriginal words and the reader sometimes has to look for meaning in the context rather than the words themselves. In a way, it is like looking at a landscape through a stained glass window; there are layers of beauty that reward the eye that is willing to concentrate.
Garner says, in The Voice That Thunders, that a writer has to have a sense of the numinous. That single word probably sums up Strandloper.