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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic, moving novel - if hard to read at first!
Many people seem to think this novel is "about" Chris, the central female character. Personally I thought it was about rural Scottish life in the early 1900's, and how a particular community comes to be affected by issues far outside of its own borders and its own control.

The close relationships and way of life within a community such as this, means that even...
Published on 20 July 2007 by Mr. A. Gale

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Sunset song
Was hard to follow to start with but a good read once you got into it very sad at the end of it.
Published 17 days ago by john evans


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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic, moving novel - if hard to read at first!, 20 July 2007
By 
Mr. A. Gale "Al Gale" (Worcester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sunset Song (Paperback)
Many people seem to think this novel is "about" Chris, the central female character. Personally I thought it was about rural Scottish life in the early 1900's, and how a particular community comes to be affected by issues far outside of its own borders and its own control.

The close relationships and way of life within a community such as this, means that even very trivial events or actions carried out by an individual all carry great importance to others. Gossip and rumour necessarily play a significant role in the novel.

The unique writing style of the novel does initially make it very hard to read. Sentences are long, and are often not restricted to a single subject or idea, but once the reader learns to engage with the narrator and understands the style, it is like being told a story by a trusted friend.

By the end of the novel, the reader can closely identify with each of the characters, and as their individual fates are decided, it is impossible not to feel a high degree of sympathy for each of them. I personally found it a very moving read - but must admit that had I not had to study this book as part of my degree, I may well have put it down early on and not picked it back up - that would truly have been a great shame. Stick with it, and you will be glad you did!
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evocative and moving, 29 Jan 2003
By 
Lendrick (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Sunset Song (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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of Scottish literature, 10 Jun 2009
By 
Peter Buckley "peter15115" (Dyfed, Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sunset Song (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.
It is a powerful description of life in the first decades of the century, and the challenges faced by Chris in the different chapters of her life. Although the story is not just about Chris, as the central character, all else seems to revolve around her.
It is a story of its own place and time, but reminds us.. 'sea and sky and the folk who wrote and fought and were learned, teaching and saying and praying, they lasted but as a breath, a mist of fog in the hills, but the land was forever, you were close to it and it to you, not at a bleak remove it held you and hurted you'.
I agree in a sense, to look at cycles is a way of understanding what the author is telling us about life, for example, at the end (in Grey Granite), when Chris returns to the croft in Barmekin where she was born, and where she will die.
If it helps, this quote from 'Prejudices' by HL Mencken, sums up the spirit of the post-war period, and 'Sunset Song', '..the world as it stands is anything but perfect, that injustice exists, and turmoil and tragedy, and bitter suffering of ten thousand kinds, that human life at its best is anything but a grand, sweet song. But instead of ranting absurdly against the fact..or trying to remedy it with inadequate means..we seek contentment by pursuing the delights that are so strangely mixed with horrors..such is the intelligent habit of practical and sinful men'.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I have ever read...I dare you not to cry!, 8 Nov 2008
By 
Y. Hannon "YVH" (Hampshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sunset Song (Paperback)
I'd never heard of this book before starting on a literature course, but I'm so glad I discovered it. Don't be put off by the 'product descripton' given above, or the Scottish vernacular which you'll encounter on every page, and certainly not by the 'literature' tag. It is above all the story of Chris Guthrie, a crofter's daughter, in the years before the First World War. As she grows from schoolgirl to womanhood, Chris makes the choice to give up her dream of teaching and farm the family croft after the death of her father. It's a beautiful, sad (yet ultimately life affirming) novel of hard work, hope, love, pain, politics, wonderfully realistic characters and incorrigible village gossip! Give it a go - you won't be sorry. I intend to read the rest of the trilogy - "A Scotch Quair" as soon as possible.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars well worth a read, 21 Sep 2008
By 
Ruth Cairns (Falkirk, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sunset Song (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
5.0 out of 5 stars A great questioning book, 30 May 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Sunset Song (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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite book., 19 July 2007
By 
Marie A. Smith "mazza1998" (scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sunset Song (Paperback)
A beautiful book, full of beautiful language. This book engages the reader and paints a beautiful picture of life before the first world war and through it. I have read this book so many times and yet it still reduces me to tears. The book is on the Scottish higher curriculum, and so many people's memory of it is of a boring, scholarly dissection. It should be read for pleasure.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I could not recomend this book more., 3 May 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Sunset Song (Paperback)
Sunset Song is the best text I have read in school ever. The main theme of change centered round the non changing symbolic standing stones. The main character, Chris, is divided between the love of the land and her education. This novel is well worth a read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An emotional rollercoaster that I didn't want to get off., 8 April 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Sunset Song (Paperback)
I first read this book at school when I was 15 and have since read it several times again. Each time it is both familiar and yet amazingly new. The book follows the life of Chris Guthrie and her life in the Highlands of Scotland. It charts her love-hate relationship with the land which provides her very existence and also follows her through her own personal (often brutal) relationships.
I cannot recommend this book enough and am pleased to be the very first to review it.
My own personal opinion is it would make a brilliant film a notion which my best friend and I often pondered!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars very real and honest portrayal of a young woman, 6 Mar 2007
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This review is from: Sunset Song (Paperback)
I admit first of all, I found the dialect of this book difficult to get into. Thank God there was a list of translations at the back. However after I got into the rhythm of the language, the story itself revealed the truth, hardship and joy of a farmers life.

Chris the heroine, gives up her dreams of becomming a teacher, and any fancy notions to work her family farm.

The brutality and drive of her father, and his incredible influence over the whole family unit, is uncompromising.

Gibbon, brings the whole community of Blawarie, to the book, their prejudices and ways of dealing with issues.

The depiction of how WW1 affects the community is brilliant in its understatement and utter devastation, not only of people but of a whole way of life and it's effect on the environment.

Sunset song reads like a song, a ballad of a way of life, that WW1 helped destroy.
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Sunset Song
Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon (Paperback - 9 April 2006)
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