The Little Minister

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Author: James M. Barrie
Published: 1891
Language: English
Wordcount: 112,497 / 321 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 62.2
LoC Category: PR
Downloads: 1,411 904

This picturing of Scottish village life and characters is a delightful one. Gavin Dishart, untried and tremendously in earnest in his high calling, is given charge of the Auld Licht Manse in Thrumms, where he at once becomes the property of all the Kirk and village folk, subject at all times to their fond interference and severe criticism. His experiences are told with the mingling of quaint humor and delicate pathos which characterizes the author. The story of the Little Minister's manly love for and loyal holding to the Egyptian, a fascinating gipsy girl, who crosses his path, is a lovely glimpse of the power of a true man's love; and the awakening of thoughtless, untamed Babby to the deeper meaning of life through her love for Gavin is told with great tenderness and beauty. The plot is a strong one and is given with true dramatic power.

Show Excerpt

long, Jim," and sank.

A month afterwards Margaret sold her share in the smack, which was all Adam left her, and the furniture of the house was rouped. She took Gavin to Glasgow, where her only brother needed a housekeeper, and there mother and son remained until Gavin got his call to Thrums. During those seventeen years I lost knowledge of them as completely as Margaret had lost knowledge of me. On hearing of Adam's death I went back to Harvie to try to trace her, but she had feared this, and so told no one where she was going.

According to Margaret, Gavin's genius showed itself while he was still a child. He was born with a brow whose nobility impressed her from the first. It was a minister's brow, and though Margaret herself was no scholar, being as slow to read as she was quick at turning bannocks on the girdle, she decided, when his age was still counted by months, that the ministry had need of him. In those days the first question asked of a child was not, "Tell me your name," but "What ar


Average Rating of 4 from 3 reviews: ****
Leah A. Zeldes

Narrated by a timid schoolmaster bowed down by his own tragic love story, this bittersweet novel follows Gavin Dishart, the very young minister of an upright church in small Scottish town, and the only support of his widowed mother. Gavin's encounters a mysterious and bewitching gypsy woman who alternately enrages and enchants him, but the least hint of their dangerous relationship imperils his standing in his church.

Full of dialect and local color, it starts slowly but gradually becomes a dramatic and engrossing story that keeps your attention to the end, despite much strong foreshadowing of its conclusion.

William Laine

Yes, in 1934 a film, "The Little Minister," appeared. It stars John Beal as the minister & Katharine Hepburn as the girl who fascinates him. It is a classic.


A good book, long-winded but not wastefully so. The story is cinematic, and I believe was actually made into a movie once. One gets a real feel for the Scottish Dissenting church(es) as one follows the "little minister" into the adventure and romance which neither he nor the reader expects. Memorable characters and actual historical background are woven into this cliff-hanger -- with JM Barrie's signature originality and humor. Good for a very long plane ride.

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