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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and gripping story.
This book traces a contemporary story set against the violent history of the Scottish Borders, both in the time of the Reivers and more recently. Greig succeeds in evoking the atmosphere of the location with its bare hills with concealed lochs and dry-stone dykes, running with swift streams and scattered with sheep and occasional cottages. The landscape simmers with...
Published on 30 Jun 1999

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An acquired taste?
On the back of my copy of this book, 'The Times' describes this story as 'a thriller and no mistaking it, though one as black and deep as a border tarn'. I quite enjoy intelligent thrillers and this isn't the first of Andrew Greig's books that I have read, so I thought that I was on relatively safe ground. However I should have paid more attention to the rest of the...
Published on 24 July 2011 by Scholastica


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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and gripping story., 30 Jun 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: When They Lay Bare (Hardcover)
This book traces a contemporary story set against the violent history of the Scottish Borders, both in the time of the Reivers and more recently. Greig succeeds in evoking the atmosphere of the location with its bare hills with concealed lochs and dry-stone dykes, running with swift streams and scattered with sheep and occasional cottages. The landscape simmers with old tensions and hatreds, brought alive by the set of antique painted plates that the woman carries with her. Their interpretation is an integral part of the story and to an extent drive the woman's actions. Greig has an uncanny ability to transcend the now and make us aware of the connections with the past that are all about us. The desperate lives of the 16th century Reivers echo in the late twentieth century and find a place in modern emotions. This is the complete reverse of Hartley's famous opening line: "The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there". On the contrary, it is here and now and they are still doing things the same. It is a dramatic book, both in setting and in the direction the narrative takes. The final denoument, although guessed, is nonetheless profoundly shocking. In the end, nothing changes. This is a fine book, well-written, with an erotic charge which is an integral part of its energy.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine blend of narrative, myth and locality, 2 July 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: When They Lay Bare (Paperback)
An excellent novel, which establishes and sustains a fine weave of different narrative voices with a strong sense of rootedness in local terrain and myth.
The device of nourishing a contemporary story from the Borders ballads,"Twa Corbies" and "Barbara Allen", could have resulted in a mere technical exercise. In Greig's hands, however, it adds the iron to the soul of what might have otherwise amounted to little more than a relationship story. A very impressive work which sends me back to the author's previous novels.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An acquired taste?, 24 July 2011
This review is from: When They Lay Bare (Paperback)
On the back of my copy of this book, 'The Times' describes this story as 'a thriller and no mistaking it, though one as black and deep as a border tarn'. I quite enjoy intelligent thrillers and this isn't the first of Andrew Greig's books that I have read, so I thought that I was on relatively safe ground. However I should have paid more attention to the rest of the description - this was not a comfortable read for me.

The setting is an enclosed valley in 'the Borders'. It isn't readily identifiable and I don't think that it is meant to be. The nearby town is described as 'the market town' and going further afield, there is 'the city'. The 'coast' is mentioned as are 'the moors'. But the only people we meet are those whose lives are contained in this isolated valley. The overall effect is of deep malevolent claustrophobia.

A young woman, Marnie, walks into this scene, reawakening memories of twenty years ago when a young woman died after falling off a cliff. Each of the people around at that time, then tell their stories. The truth is elusive.

Greig gives each of these people; Sim, Tat, Marnie and David, their own distinctive voices, and each tell a different part of the story. The part that I found unsettling was that sometimes a voice would only last a few paragraphs before breaking off. This, alongside some extremely melodramatic descriptions, meant that I couldn't relax with this book - even though, at the same time, it became fairly compelling.

I'd find it difficult to recommend this book arbitrarily. It's possible that I don't have enough of the soul of a poet to appreciate it to its fullest. However, I did enjoy the language and it's a novel that can leave a distinctive haunting mark. An acquired taste, I think.
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5.0 out of 5 stars dark and compelling, the past and present mingle, 18 April 2012
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markr - See all my reviews
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This review is from: When They Lay Bare (Paperback)
I really wonder why Andrew Greig is not better known. i bought this rather randomly, based on the strength of recommendations by other Amazon reviewers , and i am so grateful to those who pointed me in the direction of his work. I have just ordered more of his books and can't wait to read them - I am going to have to pace myself to spread that pleasure over a reasonable period. I hope that this recommendation may open others to Greig's books too - if it does i'm pretty sure you won't be disappointed.

This book stays with you when you put it down, and you can't put it down until it is done. It is haunting, dark, beautiful, and pulls you into a strange and beguiling world where little is as it seems, and where memories, ghosts, light and dark interplay with the present to create an unsettling yet hypnotic world.

Set in the borders between Scotland and England, between past and present, between real and imagined, the story tells of the arrival in a small community of a young woman with, it seems, strong links to suppressed pasts. So many of the characters are damaged by their pasts, and the damage bubbles just below the surface for most of this book - menacing and beguiling the reader to learn more. The landscape and the characters are beautifully drawn, with narrative that is almost poetic at times.

i just loved it, but can't say more without spoiling the story, except that if you already know Andrew Greig's books you are probably already convinced - and if not you are in for a real treat
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When They Lay Bare
When They Lay Bare by Andrew Greig (Paperback - 17 April 2000)
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