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The Still Point
 
 

The Still Point [Kindle Edition]

Amy Sackville
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)

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Review

'A beautiful, unearthly novel, in which secrets continually open out onto a wild glare of Arctic light' --Francis Spufford, author of The Child That Books Built

`Sackville writes with great assurance and wonderfully evokes the polar landscape and the atmosphere of the period. A most promising debut' --Penelope Lively

`Remarkable both as stylist and storyteller, Sackville unfolds a love story of compelling contrasts ... a fine and distinctive first novel'

--Maura Dooley

`The two worlds of ice and heat, a century apart, are carefully balanced by exquisitely restrained prose' --Guardian

`An exceptional debut novel ... She writes like a younger Rachel Cusk, precise poetry undercut by dry wit' --Financial Times

`Spanning a single day, the novel's dream-like structure belies its linguistic and emotional precision ... a poised beginning' --Daily Mail

'As iridescent in its writing as the snowy wastelands it evokes ... This is a novel of palpable promise' --Times Literary Supplement

'Sackville creates some soaring prose, full of elegance and confidence'
--The List

Product Description

At the turn of the twentieth century, Arctic explorer Edward Mackley sets out to reach the North Pole and vanishes into the icy landscape without a trace. He leaves behind a young wife, Emily, who awaits his return for decades, her dreams and devotion gradually freezing into rigid widowhood. A hundred years later, on a sweltering mid-summer's day, Edward's great-grand-niece Julia moves through the old family house, attempting to impose some order on the clutter of inherited belongings and memories from that ill-fated expedition, and taking care to ignore the deepening cracks within her own marriage. But as afternoon turns into evening, Julia makes a discovery that splinters her long-held image of Edward and Emily's romance, and her husband Simon faces a precipitous choice that will decide the future of their relationship. Sharply observed and deeply engaging, The Still Point is a powerful literary debut and a moving meditation on the distances - geographical and emotional - that can exist between two people.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 563 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Portobello Books (1 April 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004E0ZSN6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #87,847 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A day in the life - a life in a day 5 May 2010
By Annabel Gaskell VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Julia is the great-grand-niece of Edward Mackley, a polar explorer at the turn of the century, who newly married to Emily, left on an expedition and was never seen alive again after a group of men set out for the North Pole from their ship the Persephone. Emily, effectively abandoned after their honeymoon, waited all her life for him to come back.

Julia, who is married to Simon, lives in the Mackley family house and is guardian of the archive from the ill-fated expedition. Some of the ship's crew survived, and eventually Edward's body was recovered along with his personal effects. Julia is an utter romantic and loved hearing all the stories of derring-do as a child.

The action in this novel takes place over twenty-four hot and sultry hours in the life of Julia and Simon. Their marriage is in something of a rut, but we start off in bed after a now uncharacteristic moment of passion. Simon, ever precise, goes off to work leaving Julia to work in the attic cataloging the collection, but she gives herself over to re-reading the ship's log and Mackley's diary on this hot summer day. Gradually Mackley and Emily's story and that of Julia and Simon reveal themselves to us as the day goes on, and there are surprises in store ...

I liked the way the author told us Julia and Simon's story in the summer heat and the present tense, and that of Emily and Mackley's arctic adventure in the past. The fact that it all takes place over one day made me cross my fingers that it wouldn't resemble If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor - another book that unfolds over a single day, but which I didn't get on with.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stellar stuff 17 Feb 2010
Format:Paperback
I bought this after hearing half of it on Radio 4's Book at Bedtime and was really impressed. It links together one day in the life of a modern day couple in London with a doomed quest to the Arctic. It's beautifully written, and has the kind of prose that stops you in your tracks. The influence of Woolf and Joyce are defininitely there, but the narrative voice is original and Sackville's really good at capturing the minutuae of a less-than-perfect relationships. I know people say this about lots of writers but this time it's really true! I have been recommending it to all my friends.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Still Point 5 Mar 2010
Format:Paperback
The beautiful imagery and personal detail Ms Sackville uses in the intricate narrative makes it a delight to read. It is a vividly drawn journey between the cold wastes of the north (almost feeling the frostbite), the loneliness of the waiting wife in Edwardian England, and the bittersweet relationships of today. A skilled wordsmith, the author draws you in through the intense highs and raw pain of that longed-for perfect romance, and confronts the frustrations and distances between lovers. On a practical note, the novel is a perfect length for a weekend curled up in front of the fire and will impress any lover of fine literature.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, but lacking 8 July 2010
By Suzie
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Anyone who appreciates the beauty of the English language must surely enjoy the experience of reading this book. Apart from the occasional glaringly ugly sentence, mainly towards the end, it's beautifully written, almost poetic in the imagery and quality of descriptions. The story too has the potential to fascinate - twenty-four hours in modern-day Julia's marriage interspersed with diaries and speculation about her great-great-uncle's doomed expedition to the North Pole while his young bride, Emily, whiles away her days waiting for the homecoming that would never happen.

Julia and Simon have moved into the explorer's family home, a house of many rooms, stuffed like a museum with Edward's treasures from his earlier Arctic adventures.
You don't have to read far to realise that this is a talented author who will hopefully write many more beautiful books. But although I loved both the idea and the style of the writing, there were aspects that I felt were weak and which therefore spoilt it for me.

Julia herself was the biggest weakness in my view. Despite reading about the detail of her day, with flashbacks to fill in her background story, I never felt I knew her as a person. Not only am I, the reader, made to feel like an observer, I am actually told that I am one, as in, for instance, `You can draw a little nearer, if you're very quiet.' Such comment, and many more besides, destroyed any illusion that I was going to share these people's lives and experience with them how they felt. It is a device used most conspicuously in the early pages of the book, and one that I particularly disliked. As a result, Julia remained a complete unknown so far as I was concerned, despite being the central character. I never understood her or how or why she functioned as she did.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surely a major prize winner 18 April 2010
By Chaucer
Format:Paperback
David Attenborough reached the North Pole as I finished this novel today; the explorer, Edward Mackley, and his crew were not so lucky. Set at the beginning of the nineteenth centure, Mackley and that part of the story seems to be based on the experiences of several explorers - probably Scott, Shackleton and the Franklin expedition. A century later Mackley's descendant, Julia, now lives in the same house as Emily, Mackley's wife, who waited for him for the rest of her life. Julia is now the guardian of Mackley's legacy and her own life and marriage parallels the story of Edward and Emily. This is a stunning novel: it is wonderfully lyrical but also very controlled and it reads like the work of a major author on top of their game. We are guided effortlessly back and forth in time and place. The book works largely through images and metaphor: the descriptions of the ice are breath taking; the house becomes increasingly oppressive and is skillfully realised. There is much to think about in this book but it is an effortless read because the quality of the writing is so fine. It deserves to win every prize going. Something as great as this does not come along every day - can't recommend it enough.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
confusing and directionless
Published 24 days ago by susannah jane pickard
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've ever read
I couldn't rate this book highly enough. Hypnotic and sensual. A real masterpiece. Her second novel, Orkney, is also very good. A good read and money well spent. Thank you Amy x
Published 8 months ago by Anna
4.0 out of 5 stars Needs to be read in a couple of sittings
There is some beautiful writing in this book, and overall I enjoyed it very much. It's a little slow moving and repetitive in parts, however, and I would have struggled if I'd... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Mrs Norris
4.0 out of 5 stars The Still Point
I am enjoying the book and the prose is lovely. I am appalled that apostrophes are all missing. This annoys me and interferes with my enjoyment of the book. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Helen Embley
5.0 out of 5 stars The Still Point.
Good service, interesting novel.I will be lookin to read more by this new author in the future. Well done Amy.
Published 15 months ago by Francis D. Carlisle-Kitz
2.0 out of 5 stars Irritating writing.
A very sweet story but the writing viewpoint was so irritating that I could not enjoy it.
At the end, I was left wondering whether I had missed something.
Published 17 months ago by Mrs. G. Logan
3.0 out of 5 stars The Still Point
I was keen to read the book Orkney recently released by this author, as I love all books about Orkney and such isolated areas. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Keen Reader
2.0 out of 5 stars Terrible proof-reading
The fact that there is not a single apostrophe makes it both annoying and ast times interferes with meaning. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Ms C E Crawford
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and beautiful.
I absolutely loved this book. The writing is pure luxury. It is rich, layered and evocative, dreamlike and flowing, mingling and engaging. Read more
Published 18 months ago by karker
3.0 out of 5 stars A slow read
Interesting in some places. About an explorer's failed attempt to reach the N orth Pole and the reverberations through the following generations
Published 19 months ago by Dons83
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Popular Highlights

 (What's this?)
&quote;
to the northernmost point, to find it, to fix it, to feel the world turn below me. &quote;
Highlighted by 3 Kindle users
&quote;
There is no knowing which footstep is the true one, the moment when the whole earth turns below. You cannot pause upon it. You move, oblivious, over the still point. &quote;
Highlighted by 3 Kindle users

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