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Huntingtower (Dickson McCunn #1)

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  415 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
This modern fairy-tale is also the gripping adventure story about Dickson McCunn, a respectable, newly retired grocer who finds himself in the thick of a plot involving the kidnapping of a Russian princess held prisoner in the rambling mansion, Huntingtower. Here, Buchan introduces some of his best-loved characters and paints a remarkable picture of a man rejuvenated by jo ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published December 1st 2008 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1922)
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Jan 19, 2010 Lobstergirl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lobstergirl by: L'Carpetron Dookmarriot
Shelves: fiction

Both the Russian Revolution and the Great War lurk in the close-background of Huntingtower, set in a Scotland of 1920 and published in 1922, but there's always a subdued jolliness and sense of well-being in Buchan's adventure novels that mitigates whatever menace he introduces. However grim he tries to make his modern fairy tale, it will never be Grimm.

Dickson McCunn, retiring from his fancy grocery store establishment at 55, decides to go on a brisk walk in southwest Scotland while his wife vac
Jan 01, 2009 K. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 30, 2011 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure
I really dig Buchan for some reason. Great adventure stories with tons of period details (he seems to know every general, battle, and politician of the era). And that's despite the ridiculously out-of-date imperialist, colonial-era biases and stereotypes that he is mired in.

Still, these are quick, easy reads, with lots of fun and adventure. I love the idea of these British dudes going off to some colonial frontier to "make their pile" then coming back to live the good life for a while, and even
I gave up on this at 30%. It's a strange little book.

It was a clever, interesting story at first, but as the dialect got broader and broader I got fed up with it. Having lived in England and having had Scottish friends, as well as vacationing in various areas of Scotland (not even mentioning TV) I've heard my share of Scottish accents so it's not totally beyond me to understand dialect. But seriously, do we need to spell out every accented word? Surely we can get the idea of accented speech with
A rip-roaring adventure, marred by the ugliness of Buchan's anti-Semitism. The damsel in distress was pursued by people who wanted to get the jewels with which she had been entrusted. "But behind them were the Jews, and behind the Jews our unsleeping enemies." (page 120)

What I find really chilling about this quite unnecessary reference to Jewish people being cast as part of an evil conspiracy, is that it was perfectly acceptable and unremarkable to have it appear in a book published in 1922. Joh
I first read this book many years ago after seeing a very good BBC production on TV. It’s a rollicking good adventure yarn. I then read it a couple of years ago on my Sony E-Reader; which was brilliant because in the Oxford English Dictionary pre-installed on my e-reader, I found definitions for all but one of the archaic Scots words that Buchan uses (and he uses a lot). That was a huge help; and I gained a lot from that increased understanding.

I like the typeface in this particular edition; the
K.V. Johansen
I've always enjoyed this story of the retired grocer who sets out on a walking holiday and finds himself allied with a cynical Modern poet and a gang of Glasgow street boys defending an exiled Russian princess from her enemies, but on my most recent revisiting of it, I found myself wondering whether Dickson might not have a small place in Bilbo's literary genes. Tolkien enjoyed Buchan, and the exultation of how middle-class British virtues underpin an enduring heroism, and the efforts of both Di ...more
Oct 06, 2014 Charles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very enjoyable short read packed full of adventure and altruistic actions. The protagonist (a retired grocer taking a holiday in the Highlands) battles with his conscience, going against all he has abided by his whole life, in the name of justice, romance and euphoria. Buchan finds warmth in the darkest corners of an often barren and harsh land, through loyalty, valour and a good cup of tea!
Marts  (Thinker)
Jun 16, 2012 Marts (Thinker) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Better known for his drama, The Thirty Nine Steps and hero Richard Hannay, Buchan here introduces another hero, Dickson McCunn, who leads us through quite a thrilling adventure set near Carrick, Scotland...
Feb 14, 2017 Alayne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After a very slow start this was an exciting story. The only problem for me was that most of the dialogue was written in "Scottish" and half the time I didn't have a clue what was being said!
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Richard Hannay
Aug 24, 2015 Richard Hannay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fun, 2016
A great story with Russian aristocrats facing soviet agents and retired grocers from Glasgow, old ladies and radical poets stepping up to defend law and order. Suffers a bit from the lack of a sufficiently scary villain and the abuse of Scots gets sometimes tiresome but....Pure Buchan. Energy, adventure, open spaces.... And a distinct absence of cynicism or nihilism, the two imposters of our age. Buchan is pre-postmodern. A dialogue like this one is simply unconceivable today (Dickson, the proud ...more
May 25, 2016 Julia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely love this delightful story about a retired Scottish grocer in the 1920's who goes on a walking tour, and becomes embroiled in the discovery of a kidnapped Russian princess. A brave little band of street urchins, who have been sent to the country for "camp" (though it seems they are there entirely without adult supervision), have also become suspicious about the old mansion where sinister things appear to be happening. They all begin to plot together, along with a poet whom the groce ...more
Ally Shand
Mar 17, 2015 Ally Shand rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just adore this book. Firstly, it represents one of my first forays into reading. My grandfather is a huge John Buchan fan and has any number of his novels on his shelf which I would always peruse growing up. This one he gave to me when I was 12, with a memorable inscription which is still resplendent on the inside cover. So I love the book for what it represents to me.

I also love it because it is about apparently unremarkable people embarking on great adventures. It was a testament for my gr
PF Freire
Jun 30, 2016 PF Freire rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book ramdomly and was very surprised.
It is about a retired shop owner named Dickson that, after years of working on the city,
decides to take a walking trip on the country side and finds himself exposed, for the first time in years, to people with totally different ideas from what he was used to.
Also discovers that a Russian Princess is locked against her will in a dilapidated estate in a semi abandoned town. By his side he has a modern poet and a troupe of renegade scouts.
What happ
Jun 11, 2015 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
Dickson McCunn “has had a humdrum life since the day when he first entered his uncle’s shop”, but now he has retired, and with his wife away, decides to take a holiday on foot. I do like a hero who spends more time deciding what book to take than on all the rest of his packing.

“He had never fished in his life, but “The Compleat Angler” seemed to fit his mood. It was old and curious and learned and fragrant with the youth of things. He remembered its falling cadences, its country songs and wise m
Michael Jones
3.5 Like I said, you could characterize this book by Paddington bear and his friends rescuing Anastacia.

The thing that is really neat is that the good guys do end up rescuing and saving the day, but they are humble and do the rescuing without some great need for vengeance or bravado.

Dixon is a very Paddington like character-- he makes the pace of the book quite slow because he dawdles and meanders. But his meanderings serve purpose: they provide social commentary on many tendencies in the modern
While Huntingtower is probably one of the less masterful books I've read by Buchan, I certainly enjoyed it once I was a couple chapters in. One of its great advantages, for me, is Buchan's use of local Scottish dialect. I also enjoy his sometimes subtle political and cultural commentary. This novel includes such commentary on Bolshevism as well as provincial British topics. A disadvantage was that I thought the plot a bit extraordinary at times.

My wife tells me the third book of the Dickson McCu
Mar 18, 2016 Sarahelisabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The major character in this book is a middle aged, middle class newly retired grocer whose ordinariness endeared him to me. Other characters in the book are homely and realistic, particularly Mrs Moran and the Gorbals Die-Hards. These characters must be based on people that John Buchan knew from his Scottish childhood.

The book is an adventure involving a left wing poet, a Russian princess, another exiled Russian and various Bolshevik characters. It doubtless preys on fears around in the 1920s of
Brian Kooshian
May 23, 2015 Brian Kooshian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: fiction
An excellent adventure novel by a British novelist of the early 20th century, this story is distinctive (by today's standards) because the hero of the story is a retiree who actually doesn't fall in love with (and in fact is not even tempted by) the young "lady in distress". He helps a group of young boys to rescue her simply because it is the right thing to do.

This book is also available as an audio book on Librivox, where it is superbly read by Simon Evers, who does the various Scottish accent
Sep 03, 2013 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This book had a unique pace. Nothing happened in the first quarter, and the last half was one drawn out battle, resolved in the last three pages. I didn't really enjoy the plot, but the characters were well written and created. There were many philosophical moments as one main character was a poet. Some beautiful lines in there. While I enjoyed it for a quick read, it is not something I'd read again.
Feb 20, 2013 Robin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: england, dads
Excellent adventure story, with what I recognize as my dad's favorite type of protagonist: the middle-aged man of humdrum business caught up in a High Romance/Adventure, who surprises himself by doing a not half-bad job.

If I have one quibble, it's that Buchan told two POVs of the last great fight after he'd already told the ending in the first POV. ("A common failing of the military historian," as perhaps Buchan himself would say. lol)
Mar 23, 2013 Will rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable Buchan. Very much the story of the retired grocer, Dickson McCunn, who finds himself in the middle of intrigue and is rejuvenated by his involvement with much younger allies. I found Buchan's use of Scottish vernacular very difficult to understand on the written page. Only down-side to this book. Highly enjoyable.
Peter Ellis
An amusing and readable adventure story from the 1930s. Warning - reflects the values of the time, as seen by a Tory lawyer / politician intent on telling history from the point of view of the sturdy values of the rising British middle classes.
Chris Johnson
A semi-comic story set in the Scottish countryside in the 1920s where a retired grocer, a melodramatic poet and a troop of delinquent orphans try to free a Russian noblewoman held hostage. Not earth-shattering, but a fun read.
Kathi Cash
Aug 10, 2015 Kathi Cash rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So much fun!

I'm very glad I discovered this book. The characters come to life with all their faults and prejudices, and the unlikely hero does exactly what you want him to and still stays in character. This is perfect if you're looking for a book that celebrates middle age.
Jul 11, 2009 holy_fire rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buchan-john, 1922
likable characters, classic plot-elements (the princess, the villain, the poet, the unlikely hero) but hasn't imho aged very well, I found the language and writing style quite dated which distracted from the wonderful story.
Colin Fisher
Sep 16, 2014 Colin Fisher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you can put aside the casual anti-semitism (one comment) and page after page of class-deference, you'll end up enjoying a cracking adventure story with some brilliantly described characters, not the least being the Gorbal Die Hards.
Jan 08, 2015 Sharon rated it liked it
Shelves: adventure
Having read both The 30 Steps and Greenmantle, Huntingtower was not a surprise and just as enjoyable. Buchan has a great way of writing adventure stories that make you remember you're still in your armchair and yet keep you completely engrossed. I fully enjoyed Dixon's adventure.
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John Buchan (1st Baron Tweedsmuir) was a Scottish novelist and public servant who combined a successful career as an author of thrillers, historical novels, histories and biographies with a parallel career in public life. At the time of his death he was Governor-General of Canada.

Buchan was educated at Glasgow and Oxford Universities. After a brief career in law he went to South Africa in 1902 wh
More about John Buchan...

Other Books in the Series

Dickson McCunn (3 books)
  • Castle Gay (Dickson McCunn, #2)
  • The House of the Four Winds (Dickson McCunn, #3)

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“The eyes were of a color which he could never decide on, afterwards when he told the story he used to say they were the color of everything in Spring.” 4 likes
“He felt singularly light-hearted, and the immediate cause was his safety razor. A week ago he had bought the thing in a sudden fit of enterprise, and now he shaved in five minutes, where before he had taken twenty, and no longer confronted his fellows, at least one day in three, with a countenance ludicrously mottled by sticking-plaster.” 3 likes
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