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Site Works [Kindle Edition]

Robert Davidson
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £7.99
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Book Description

In the corner of the door lintel a cobweb shone like silver. Like me the spider works through instinct. It just gets up and gets on with the job without thought. Every so often it turns out something perfect. On a wind lashed coast in the far north a group of men assemble on a construction site. The Ness and Struie Drainage Project will dominate their lives for the next few months as they toil through the daylight hours and into the night, endure hardship and conflict and – mostly -survive. Within the compound and fencelines a new, temporary world will form, bounded by sea, mountains and sky. Site Works is the story of the men and their work, transients creating something permanent and greater than they know.

Product Description


. . . a world that fiction forgot. The guys in this novel are building a drainage facility in the north of Scotland in winter, and clinging to what small comforts they have - alcohol, illicit liaisons with married women, even horror comics - to make it bearable. Davidson has come up with an incredibly vivid depiction of a temporary community of transient workers, which is almost too authentic for comfort. --Alastair Mabbott in The Herald

. . . an enthralling, vivid novel set here in out midst. Of course the author asserts that his names, places, events etc are fictional. But don t be fooled: this is a real life engineering project and these are the men and their machines who made it happen and Robert Davidson is their brilliant chronicler. In his words the technical and the mundane, the endless body-destroying hard graft, the awfulness of the Highland winter weather, all come together to create something fine. --Charles Gorer in The Northern Times

Poetic passages and concise pen portraits are woven into an enlightening tale which lifts the lid on a world of which few are aware. --Ross-shire Journal

In this book, Davidson has given voice to a whole class of people who are treated simply as figures on a balance sheet by economists, or peripheral stereotypes by other novelists. Site Works deserves to be read by the very men to whose lives it gives such beautiful attention. --Alan Bissett

Poetic passages and concise pen portraits are woven into an enlightening tale which lifts the lid on a world of which few are aware. --Ross-shire Journal

About the Author

Robert Davidson is a professional writer and editor based in Highland Scotland. He is the founder and managing director of Sandstone Press and the author, co-author, and editor of many books as well as a published poet, lyricist and libretist. Before altering his life's course he worked for over thirty years (having left education early) as a civil engineer. It is this experience that informs Site Works. Books written by Robert Davidson have been short listed for the Saltire Society, Scottish Arts Council, and Boardman Tasker Awards.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 532 KB
  • Print Length: 257 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1905207638
  • Publisher: Sandstone Press; 1st Edition edition (29 April 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1905207638
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905207633
  • ASIN: B005ES0U8U
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #172,810 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ann Yule 8 Aug. 2011
By Ann Y
This is a very brave and ground-breaking book. Having been an enthusiastic reader all my life I have never come across a book that has tackled the day to day working life of a group of men working out of doors in all weathers, detailing not only their working conditions but also what is going on in their heads as they carry out often back-breaking tedious work with so little reward or appreciation. They are not much better treated than slaves. The author shows an intimate knowledge of the working conditions and all that goes into constructing such a project. His ability to, at times, also describe the beauty of the views from where they are working in sharp contrast to their task, adds a new dimension to their back breaking work.

I was particularly taken with the character of the little man whose task it was to clean out the toilets - and they were not beautiful - sitting on one of the thrones himself reading Dostoevsky. The portrait of this little man was very moving. The characters were all so very believable. This book could be turned into a very successful film.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'Site Works' Works 27 Sept. 2011
I was intrigued by this book, having had my arm slightly twisted to persuade me to stock it in our shop. The sub-title 'The Ness and Struie Drainage Project' might not excite prospective readers but despite my scepticism, I plunged into the sewage and emerged having really enjoyed it. It tells the story of the workers and bosses on a building/engineering project - their struggles, hopes and fears, the uncertainty of their lives. It tells of the risks they take, the dangers they face and the pride some of them take in their work. The author gives a voice to these men who are often voiceless. Perhaps not since Patrick MacGill wrote of his experiences as a navvy have these voices been heard so clearly. At times I felt I could have done with a glossary of terms to refer to but with a little guess work and imagination I got by. Though set in the dreary winter months in the far North of Scotland, this is not a parochial or regional book and can be enjoyed by all.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful stuff 21 Jun. 2011
By zhms
A tremendously atmospheric, gritty read, strongly recommended for its powerful evocation of life on this building project in the north of Scotland. The characters are brilliantly, individually delineated and the technical descriptions are a tour de force.
An unusual and powerful book that lingers in the memory long after it is finished. Deserves national best seller status.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Site Works - a rare novel 3 Nov. 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Site Works is one of the few novels - now or in the past - to write about working life successfully. It depicts the harsh and often bleak lives of men on construction sites - you believe in these guys, sometimes admiring them, often disliking, but never indifferent. The work they do is often boring - but the writing about it never is. You find yourself gripped in these linked stories of a major construction project, drawn in to the lives and fears and dreams of those who toil there, without praise or much other reward. The pithy humour of the men is utterly believable and runs like a thread through the whole novel, so that it's never depressing though it can make you feel pity and - now and again - horror. And then, as it moves towards its final powerful stories, you realise that these ordinary working lives have been raised to another level - here they are, all the tiny men working in the distance - and they are you and me, they represent us all.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Immersed in Mud and Blood 13 Nov. 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
The review title says it all. As a female reader totally antipathetic to all things cold,wet,dirty and involving dangerous tools, I rapidly became a reluctant participant in the lives of the characters of this book. Completely convincing and often horrifying, this engineering story was surprisingly accessible to the non-technical reader. The undoubted effort required by the reader is well rewarded. Female characters are shadowy but these powerful and sensitive men return often to my thoughts. I wonder how they are getting on!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superbly Realistic 27 Dec. 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I am now retired after well over 40 years in the construction industry. I also worked as a setting out engineer and progressed up to be a Resident Engineer on site and I can confirm that this book is incredibly accurate of life on site. The constant efforts of the contractor to obtain as much additiinal monies as he can because his tender for the job usually is cut to the bone. The subcontractors also looking for as much extra cash as they can but bearing in mind that they will be looking for further work from the contractor in the future. Health and safety is much mocked in the press nowadays but it was urgently required to be apllied on construction works as deaths and serious accidents were occurring frequently. In the old days the site shut down for a day when someone died and then went on as usual. Just not good enough. Thanks goodness that safety on sites is now much improved.
The interface between the Clerk of Works and the GF and foreman is well depicted. Also the setting out enginerr working all hours but in the end gaining a lot of satisfaction from building something that will be around for many decades. I remember my early days as a Resident Engineer, a lot to learn in a very short time but experience that then last a life time. The workman were often not the brightest but most of the ones that I worked with would lend you their last £10 if you were in difficulties sorry to say that I have encountered educated colleges who were to stuck up to offer any help.
Thanks for an excellent read it brought back many happy memories.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Not read yet
Published 5 months ago by C. T. Green
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Published 9 months ago by jo
4.0 out of 5 stars This book resonated with me, but might not appeal to everyone
Having worked in construction for more than thirty years I was curious to see the writer’s approach to covering this subject. Read more
Published 16 months ago by BAJ
2.0 out of 5 stars Started as a compelling story, lost interest in the middle, speed read...
I do though have a new found respect for these builders and the hardships they endure, and if there is one endearing thing about this book , It is a quote used frequently... Read more
Published 20 months ago by William L Belfield
4.0 out of 5 stars Site Works
I enjoyed this book more than I expected given the subject. It was well written and absorbing. Wished it were longer!
Published on 17 Mar. 2013 by Elaine Hudson
5.0 out of 5 stars As real as it gets
I really enjoyed this book as, having worked on sites in my younger years, I could associate with so much of Roberts writing and storytelling. Read more
Published on 13 Mar. 2013 by Davywavy
5.0 out of 5 stars Did the earth move? Yes!
This is such a refreshing book. Original in its subject matter, characters and writing, it is moving, absorbing and insightful. Read more
Published on 5 Mar. 2013 by Rick O' Shea
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring
This was not my normal type of book but it sounded interesting. The reality for me I'm afraid was it was dull and I didn't finish it.
Published on 2 Feb. 2013 by crashzone30
5.0 out of 5 stars This was compelling reading
Site Works was certainly not lightweight reading but kept me totally engaged. This gritty, sad, sometimes funny story of life on a construction site had me feeling as cold and wet... Read more
Published on 25 Jan. 2013 by bookworm
5.0 out of 5 stars Site works
I did enjoy this book I also work in this construction industry I do think a picture mite of helped to understand more about the construction industry and make it easier to... Read more
Published on 13 Jan. 2013 by garybruce
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