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Sunset Song Paperback – 9 Apr 2006


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Product details

  • Paperback: 263 pages
  • Publisher: Polygon An Imprint of Birlinn Limited; New edition edition (9 April 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1904598668
  • ISBN-13: 978-1904598664
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,009 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Chris Guthrie is the most passionate and appealing heroine in Scottish literature; Grassic Gibbon's magnificent novel is fresh, powerful and timeless. --Anne Donovan

Its great gripping hybrid of melodrama and realism has left me scorched. --Ali Smith

About the Author

Lewis Grassic Gibbon (James Leslie Mitchell) was one of the finest writers of the twentieth century. Born in Aberdeenshire in 1901, he died at the age of thirty-four. He was a prolific writer of novels, short stories, essays and science fiction, and his writing reflected his wide interest in religion, archaeology, history, politics and science. The Mearns trilogy, 'A Scots Quair', is his most renowned work, and has become a landmark in Scottish literature. Ian Campbell is Professor of Victorian and Scottish Literature at Edinburgh University.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Peter Buckley VINE VOICE on 10 Jun 2009
Format: Paperback
'Sunset song' is a hauntingly beautiful tale. I came to it whilst living in North-east Scotland. Sunset song, and the companion novels making up 'A Scots Quair', are written in a blend of English and Scots words that only at first seem strange or daunting, you soon find that Grassic Gibbon evokes a lost age in a unique and very effective manner, using very little dialogue (in italics), but talking to the reader all the while. The novel, like much of his writing, is concerned with our lot as man `a mist appearing for a while, then disappearing' (James 4:14), inequality, and the lost `Golden Age' of the Greeks and Hebrews.
Faced with a choice between her harsh farming life and the world of books and learning, Chris Guthrie eventually decides to remain in her rural community, bound by her love of the land, and the croft set in its 'parks' on the Howe. The story returns, again and again, to the early inhabitants who left the standing stones. Grassic Gibbon paints these people, not as warring savages, but as peaceful adventurers. The First World War with its futile brutality is the real de-humaniser.
Chris is now a widowed single mother: her farm, and the surrounding land, is altered beyond recognition - trees torn down, and people displaced. But the novel describes a way of life which is in decline, as John Guthrie said, 'We'll be the last of those who wring a living from the land with our bare hands'.
Chris adapts to her new world, displaying an intuitive strength which, like the land she loves, endures despite everything. 'Sunset Song' is a testament to Scotland's rural past, to the world of crofters and tradition which was destroyed in the First World War, and hence the title of the novel.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Lendrick VINE VOICE on 29 Jan 2003
Format: Paperback
No this isn't the easiest book to read - I'm a Scot but found myself referring to the glossary regularly. Though adding words like 'gowked' (stupified) and 'glunch' (to mutter half threateningly, half fearfully) to my vocabulary may be worthwhile! While the opening section which describes the village of Kinraddie and its occupants is hard going. However, once the story starts and sets the focus on it main character Chris Guthrie what develops it wonderful.

This is a beautiful picture of a soon to be lost way of life - small holding tenant farmers eking out an existence in north east Scotland at the beginning of the 20th century. Gibbon creates a number of strong memorable characters, Chris, Chae, Long Rob of The Mill who bring the whole thing life, by the end I felt I had known them all personally. While the life of the village is conveyed affectionately yet unsentimental, there is no shortage of hardship and precious few unblemished characters. This is also a surprisingly modern novel in the way it deals with sex - never explicit but definitely sensual.

The coming of the WW1 heralds the end of the way of life that the village had known for generations. Gibbon paints a very believable picture of how that war impacted on one remote village.

By the end I felt I had had a little peek into the lives of a generation of Scots - little older than my parents - yet whose lives were so different from my own

No easy read - but well worth the effort.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ruth Cairns on 21 Sep 2008
Format: Paperback
Like others on here I first read Sunset Song for Higher English, loved it then and still love it after reading it again a few more times. This is the only book that has made me laugh out loud, and then cry just a few pages later. It's also the only book where I've fell in love with one of the characters (Long Rob of the mill). I know he's fictional but he's my perfect man haha! The language is a bit weird at first but once you get into it, you might find you actually start using some of the words in your own conversations. Deservedly voted Scotland's favourite book in 2006.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 30 May 2000
Format: Paperback
I first read this book at school for my Higher English and owing to the great pleasure I gained from it, went on to read other works by Lewis Grassic Gibbon; especially the remaining two books of this trilogy.
Sunset Song poses the question: Is the present really ever independent of the past and future? Grassic Gibbon achieves this all too subtly. The book follows the farming calendar, although not in the period of a single year, and parallels the same to the life of the main character Chris. The circular theme is continued through the use of symbolism throught the book.
Characterisation provides a great insight into the life of a rural community as it approaches World War I. The competing factions in the village can be seen as symbolic of the competing factions of Scotland at the time. The book develops and so does the demand to create a modern village, dependant on machinery and modern methods of farming. In the end the obvious, although after reading the novel many feel the wrong, result is reached and Kinraddie moves to the future.
However, the book does not end in the gloom that may be perceived by some. The last chapter of the book, finally closing the circle of time created by Lewis Grassic Gibbon, is one of hope and although reflective and, at times, emotional, never looks back to lament for those things that have gone. Through the erection of the war memorial in the middle of a stone circle, the village symbolically places the past at the centre of its world but does not lament.
The ending provides yet another new beginning in the life of Chris and I would highly recommend reading the two final parts of the trilogy. A book of great insight and exceptionally thought provoking.
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