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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very impressive debut
Sam Marsdyke, the anti-hero of God's Own Country, is a fascinating character - very funny and engaging at times but also sadistic and menacing. In fact, the whole book has a air of menace hanging over it, from the gothic moorland setting to the way Sam stalks his prey, both animal and human, as he spends his days roaming the bleak North Yorkshire countryside...
Published on 22 April 2009 by Denise4891

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good first novel
A interesting study of a tortured mind. The main character generates, by turns, sympathy and revulsion. The setting, on the North York Moors, is part of the story - a character in its own right, but to me, who lives there, it is not very well evoked. And the attempt to portray the dialect/accent is very odd. I didn't recognise the idiomatics at all.

I'm glad I...
Published on 1 July 2011 by David Hoggard


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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very impressive debut, 22 April 2009
By 
Denise4891 (Cheshire) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: God's Own Country (Paperback)
Sam Marsdyke, the anti-hero of God's Own Country, is a fascinating character - very funny and engaging at times but also sadistic and menacing. In fact, the whole book has a air of menace hanging over it, from the gothic moorland setting to the way Sam stalks his prey, both animal and human, as he spends his days roaming the bleak North Yorkshire countryside.

Sam narrates the book and his Yorkshire dialect is rich and colourful, but I didn't find it intrusive or unintelligible - I did have to look up a few words, such as "blatherskite", "powfagged" and "hubbleshoo", but I think it's easy to follow Sam`s train of thought without having to resort to a dictionary. There's also a lot of dark humour in the book, mostly at the expense of the ramblers and rich `towns' who seem to be taking over the village and turning it into a yuppie outpost.

As with all the best unreliable narrators, you're never quite sure whether to believe Sam's version of events, especially as his relationship with the neighbours' girl develops and Sam's past comes back to haunt him.

I was very impressed by this debut novel which seems to have caused a bit of a storm in the publishing world and received a lot of award nominations. Definitely an author to watch out for.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark humour and disturbing twists, 26 Jun 2012
By 
Marie (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: God's Own Country (Paperback)
God's Own Country is a tale about Sam Marsdyke, a 19-year-old farmer's son living in the North Yorkshire Moors. Expelled from school under controversial circumstances and ostracised by his peers, Sam lives a lonely life with only the land and his animals for company. When the neighbouring farmer dies and his land is bought by a family from the city, Sam strikes up an awkward friendship with Jo, their teenage daughter.

From the very first page you can't help but be struck by the strong first-person narrative voice. The book is written entirely in broad Yorkshire dialect and Sam springs vividly to life from the outset. I found him instantly amusing and likeable, and was left trying to decide whether he has been unfairly accused and judged by his community, or whether he is guilty of a heinous crime.

The premise of the book is not exactly an original one - reclusive loner develops obsession with attractive young girl - and I have found it difficult to write this review without comparing it to The Collector by John Fowles which is one of my all-time favourite reads. You have a working-class male protagonist with a simple, slightly old-fashioned view of life and a strong narrative voice. You have a female character who is middle class, self-confident, maybe precocious and manipulative at times which leaves the reader trying hard not to empathise a little with Sam, even when his obsessions take a disturbing turn. For me, the main characteristic that sets God's Own Country apart is its humour. Sam is darkly hilarious at times and the dialogue is littered with dry wit and one-liners about city folk invading the countryside. I also enjoyed the haphazard nature and disjointed punctuation of Sam's narrative, which reflected his chaotic mental state.

Something else I really loved about this book was the excellent description of the bleak beauty of the moors and the harsh, relentless lifestyle that a farmer has to lead. It served to remind me of the incredible hard work that must be involved in farming, and of the fact that families like Sam's are becoming rarer.

God's Own Country is undoubtedly dark and disturbing, but is filled with humour and boasts one of the most memorable lead characters I have encountered in ages. I would really recommend picking up a copy
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-judged debut, 11 Oct 2009
By 
bloodsimple (nottingham, uk) - See all my reviews
This review is from: God's Own Country (Paperback)
At last, a book with a genuinely interesting premise and intriguing central character. Why do we have to wait so long for that combination? Now, no-one would want to hang out with Sam Marsdyke, but both in his actions and his internal dialogue he does convince. This kind of story needs an unreliable narrator; otherwise, it becomes too simple and linear to hold the interest. Sam's silent monologue provides a context for the tale, a good sense of place and time, and a reasonably coherent explanation of what is to come. I, for one, was happy to tag along as the story got darker and darker.

The book does show its limitations once the action leaves the farm and becomes more of a road trip. Out of his comfort zone, Sam has less of his (twisted) insight to offer; the story becomes more action-oriented and the worse for it; and the last thirty pages seem rushed and overly-convenient. I would have preferred the more claustrophobic, choking atmosphere of the first half of the book to continue. Though I might be in the minority there.

Overall, an excellent debut. Let's hope the next book is as authentic and well-judged.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marsdyke's Game, 20 Feb 2009
By 
M. Kratz (Manchester) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: God's Own Country (Paperback)
Gods Own Country was recommended to me by a friend after I had read De Niro's Game by Rawi Hage. I mentioned that while despite not liking the narrator-protagonist in De Niro's Game I found myself continuing to read the book because of his incredibly moving descriptions and poetic interpretations of the world around him. And so I was recommended Gods Own Country.

It's a very different sort of book about a boy Sam Marsdyke who lives an isolated existence on a farm on the edge of the moors. His is a problem of not receiving affection and also of not having anyone to bestow it on. Instead he pours his heart in to the companionship of his dog and the landscape around him. His relationship to the countryside of northern England is so intense and his knowledge of it so intimate, he often comes across as a kind of guardian.

The current and very real gentrification of northern mill-towns and farm-towns becomes a personal attack on Sam. The beauty is that Sam's criticism is not an over-romantic lament for the loss of rural values: he mocks the other villagers heavily when they fight to save a local pub being overtaken by a big company (none of them could stand the place before). Sam doesn't seem concerned with what other people are fighting for though. His allegiance lies entirely with the landscape.

Raisin's book feels very well-researched and there are several poignant glimpses in to rural life, which demonstrate how very differently the Yorkshire coutnryside is experienced by those who visit it (like me and the other 'towns') and those who live and were raised in it (like Sam).

Finally though one can't ignore the fact that Sam Marsdyke is also a deeply disturbed and disturbing individual, and the series of events narrated in God's Own Country are anythig but Emmerdale.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Champion Read, 8 May 2009
By 
Mr. H. F. Murden (New Barnet, Herts, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: God's Own Country (Paperback)
As someone who worked for a number of years on the North York Moors, I found Ross Raisin captured it's beauty and bleakness very well in a simple and understated way.

The main character, Sam Marsdyke, is an enigmatic figure that I never fuly warmed too but such was the clever way the story unfolded I found I was eagerly turning the pages to see where the story led me (and no, I won't spoil the story by revealing the outcome).

The use of the vernacular dialect as a vehicle for creating a suitable regional atmosphere was generally effective but at times I found it a little distracting (the copy of the book I read was passed to me by a work colleague who found the Yorkshire dialect so indecipherable that she gave up trying to finish the book !).

Overall I found this an intriguing and slightly disturbing read. The complexities of Sam Marsdyke's character were well portrayed and the author succeeded in maintaining the element of surprise until the end.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good first novel, 1 July 2011
This review is from: God's Own Country (Paperback)
A interesting study of a tortured mind. The main character generates, by turns, sympathy and revulsion. The setting, on the North York Moors, is part of the story - a character in its own right, but to me, who lives there, it is not very well evoked. And the attempt to portray the dialect/accent is very odd. I didn't recognise the idiomatics at all.

I'm glad I read it, but if you can find it in your library, borrow it. You don't need to own this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read, 1 April 2009
By 
J. K. Trounce "Jamie T" (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: God's Own Country (Paperback)
I like it. You have to enjoy Ross Raisin's writing. It is very entertaining and dark! Sam Marsdyke is very tense character which made the story quite intrugued! I think Ross Raisin is very talented and I feel he could make better books in the future. He is definately the future. He remind me a bit of J.D.Salinger.... Don't expect the book too highly though. Just open your mind and enjoy his writing more than the story itself
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A well written character study that doesn't quite deliver in the end, 15 Jan 2014
By 
Amazon Customer (Leamington Spa, Warwickshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: God's Own Country (Paperback)
Sam Mardyke is a troubled young man. He was expelled from school, he has a tendency toward violent confrontation and is now shunned by the local community. However, working on his family farm, nestled in the Yorkshire moors he can do little harm. That status quo is challenged by the purchase of the neighbouring farmhouse by arriviste Londoners including their rebellious teenage daughter, to whom Sam takes an immediate liking.

The novel is narrated by Sam in his broad Yorkshire dialogue. His matter-of-fact delivery is perfectly suited to articulating the bleak beauty of the moorland and describing his jobs about the farm. The dry, mocking humour that he deploys against city-dwelling ramblers and the annexing of the village by the middle classes makes Sam seem a sympathetic character. All of this lulls the reader into forgetting that his narration is unreliable (at best) and (more likely) hugely partial.

The menace of the first half of the novel, wrapped in the comforting fleece of a bucolic idyll, becomes far more explicit in the second half. At this point, the novel is far less successful. In part, this is because the plot is relatively thin but also because it abandons many of the more effective elements of the first half; the closely observed descriptions, the black humour and lashings of gothic atmosphere. It also means that many of the themes developed in the first half, including the tension between traditional agricultural communities and the expanding middle classes, are left unresolved.

The latter half of the novel also seems oddly rushed. Whilst the accelerating pace is an effective narrative trick to carry the reader toward the conclusion, it does so at the expense of the first half's subtlety. New themes are hinted at, particularly in the last fifteen pages, but these are not given room to develop and seem prosaic, in part because they deal in dark areas that have become familiar currency in literature over the last two decades. The banality of some of these ideas is partly due to Sam's more honest narration in the latter part of the book, which render early ambiguity blatant.

Consequently, whilst this is an interesting character study with some wonderful descriptive passages, the thin plot and brusque second half make this an unsettling but ultimately unsatisfying read. Ross Raisin is a superb prose stylist and the multi-layered characterisation of Sam is entrancing, reminiscent of Smith in Silltoe's Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. He plays with some interesting themes, including nature versus nurture and the displacement of traditional communities (for good and ill). Unfortunately, however, the plot and structure of the book don't wholly live up to this promise. Raisin's intention and ambition are clear but he hasn't yet quite hit on the formula to successfully deliver.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uncomfortable yet epic reading, 30 Oct 2012
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This review is from: God's Own Country (Paperback)
Raisin has a way with words. I truly enjoyed this book, as a reader I went through so many emotions finding myself loving and disliking Sam the main character at the same time. Raisin writes with true empathy and humour. A gripping read that was both epic and uncomfortable at the same time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rural Yorkshire brought to life., 15 April 2009
By 
Granty (Nottingham - England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: God's Own Country (Paperback)
I really enjoyed this book - especially the lead character Sam's attitude towards people buying up properties as "second homes" when locals can barely make ends meet. I found it very easy to agree with Sam's view of the world - ramblers, pub franchises and the like. Ross Raisin paints a vivid picture of life in rural Yorkshire and it's people. I have never visited the Moors or Dales but feel like I know them now. The end of this story just a little disappointing, not enough to spoil it though.
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God's Own Country
God's Own Country by Ross Raisin (Paperback - 5 Feb 2009)
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