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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of Scottish literature
'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...
Published on 10 Jun. 2009 by Peter Buckley

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Glossary required?!
My first read of a Gibbon book and overall I quite like it although some of the Scottish words/dialect baffled me. I was using a tablet and only when I got to the very end did I find a Glossary. My wife also read it and the fact that we got to the end is proof that we found it interesting although at times a bit slow. In my own case, a slight knowledge of farming 70...
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer


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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 28 July 2014
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wonderful
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3 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Over-hyped Soap Opera, 13 April 2012
This was voted Best Scottish Book of All Time in a 2005 poll in Scotland but I'm not sure whether that means it's the best book written by a Scot (surely not, Muriel Spark is a far better writer) or the best book about Scotland (but Walter Scott's Waverley is the biggest selling book of all time adjusted for literacy levels). Anyway it's held in close and dear regard by fans the world over and so it's a shame to report that this is no more than a tolerably well written soap opera, although it has the merit of being a quick and easy read.

Lewis Grassic Gibbon, sets out to use his storyline to show how rural communities in Scotland changed and developed in the period leading up to the First World War - and so he has a bigger theme in mind than simply recording births, marriages and deaths. However, his journalist training and no doubt instinct for a bestseller, means that he keeps up a constant flow of minor incidents and episodes. These mostly revolve around the book's heroine - Chris Guthrie - and cover her childhood, coming of age, death of her parents, marriage and childbirth. There's no real plot as such it's just a road story of her life and the villagers around her.

I can absolutely see why people like this book. It's pretty undemanding to read, Gibbon knows how to keep events moving and he's not a bad writer. If you're a Scot then it's got quite a high nostalgic tosh factor as well. However, for all that I thoroughly disliked this novel.

Gibbon has adopted a special hybrid Anglo-Scottish sentence structure and vocabulary as the voice of the narrator. For most of the time his meaning is clear although it seems that some people find this format very hard to read. To my mind however this device is completely unnecessary - translators of Victor Hugo or Alexander Dumas don't leave their characters talking with outrageous French accents to show which country the action is in, and nor does Gibbon need to use this cod language, which ends up like a bad script for Lord of The Rings.

Secondly, Gibbon adopts the approach of using a narrator throughout the book, with only tiny snippets of direct speech. This has the effect, at least for me, of distancing the reader from the actions and characters so that it reads like a child's fairy story rather than a serious novel. We are not allowed to get to know the players as real people only as people who have certain traits or values attached to them.

Gibbon fails almost completely in his attempt to explore the changes going on amongst his Scottish farmers. Except when the trees are cut down for the war effort he never shows the wider world and everything bad that happens (and all change here is bad) is simply and crudely blamed on `The English'. It's the worst kind of victim literature. The landowners never appear, the wider socio economic changes are invisible, there is no mention of the huge successes in shipbuilding and banking in other parts of Scotland. Only when the war comes is there any sense of there being an outside world. It's fair enough for Gibbon to love the croft farmers and their way of life, but this is too one-dimensional.

Finally, the book is full of cliché and melodrama - although it's possible that on publication in 1932 it was much fresher. The bullying dad, the runaway brother, a burning barn, white weddings and so on. A lot of readers will like this but it doesn't make for great or challenging literature, just a well told story and that may be enough for many people but not, in this case, for me.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 14 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: Sunset Song (Paperback)
as expected
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 1 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: Sunset Song (Paperback)
No problems
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4 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars If I could just stay awake I'm sure it would be great!, 5 Sept. 2002
By 
Sian (Cupar, Fife SCOTLAND) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sunset Song (Paperback)
I have just started reading Sunset Song in English and I have to say that so far, even though I've read the prelude and half of the next section, I have gained nothing.
I am finding this book very hard to read, partly because of the Scots Language, which is hard to understand but also because so far nothing very interesting has happened.
This novel seems to take a very long time to get going and is hard to "get into".
A friend of mine has already read it and assures me it does get better, I hope so because I don't know how I'm going to get through it if I keep falling asleep the way I do now.
I'm only reading it because I have to, I wouldn't recommend it as a pleasure read unless you enjoy Scots texts or have read other material by Grassic Gibbon. It is good for Analysis purposes though.
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14 of 61 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Definitely worth avoiding., 16 Oct. 2004
This review is from: Sunset Song (Paperback)
Like so many people who've reviewed this book, I was also required to read it as part of my English higher. It was the first year that the book was required reading. And even since then, I've not been able to enjoy this.
The story revolves around the main character growing up in a rural farming town, where not much happens. Events in the book such as her parents deaths and her falling in love, are connected by long strings of nothing else much happening. The main character is utterly uninteresting and very bland - her goal in life seems to evolve into little more than be a good wife.
The reflection of rural life, to be honest with you, makes me glad that I live in a city. Entire chapters are dedicated to discussing the local gossip and rumour. In fact, gossip seams to be the only consistancy that holds this book together. And more often than not, it's not even pleasant gossiping - I recall one example where characters discuss the death of their new vicar from influenza (if I recall correctly), and decide through the course of their gossip that his death was a result of his different accent leading him to pronounce 'God' differently from the locals. Excuse me, but if this is the type of rural lifestyle that the book is meant to capture, you'll forgive me if I stick to living in large cities.
By the end of the book, really nothing has been accomplished. The main character has decided that she loves her local community (she obviously has less sense than her brother, who joined the war and might have actually made a relatively interesting story) and... that's it. At the time, our teacher told us that this book was part of a trilogy. If the other two parts are as tedious as this one, I think I'll stick to Tolkien.
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4 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sunset Song, 2 Aug. 2002
By 
James Ferguson (Edinburgh Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sunset Song (Paperback)
I am currently on my summer holidays from school at the moment and while on holiday my English teacher has given us Sunset Song to read and a fair load of questions to go with it.
I'd just like to say how hard this book is to read for someone who doesn't do a lot of reading and even although I am Scottish, the words this book uses are far too complex for me.
The glossary at the back, which is meant to help you, doesn't! Quite frankly as it does not contain enough of the Scottish words contained within this text.
The sentences are not well structured either as they are far too long and by the time you have reached the end of the sentence, not only are you have way down the page, you have forgotten what the first part was about.
This is a really complex text and should only be attempted by confident readers with plenty of patience.
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5 of 33 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sunset Song, 10 Dec. 2002
This review is from: Sunset Song (Paperback)
Sunset Song is an incredibly hard book to read, I read it as part of the English Higher syllabus, even with the teacher analysing it as we slogged our way through it. In saying that, it does tackle some rather major issues, ranging from incest, to the first world war, and conscription of Ewan. Also the changing face of the Scottish culture during the early part of the century, with traditional methods vanishing, and the same with traditional value's.
I am sure this is an intense and meaningful book if you can actually tackle reading it, I, unfortunately, could not enjoy it due to its sometimes incredibly slow pace.
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2 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Relevance, please!, 5 Oct. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Sunset Song (Paperback)
I'm a Scottish teenager brought up in the Nineties and the Noughties. I have to say that for a young person of such a generation and who was brought up in a city, there was almost no relevance. What teenager nowadays is interested in farming?! I found the book to be awfully long-winded. The sentences were far too long for you to even remember what the subject was. The language at first was very difficult to understand but after a while you do eventually begin to have a scooby what's going on. I felt that the writer took too long for a major event to occur. I have to say, that if I had been given the choice by the SQA, I would not have read this book. For me to enjoy a book, there has to be a greater deal of significance and relevance to today's world.
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2 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars How can this still be taught in schools?, 1 Mar. 2010
By 
Robert Glass (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sunset Song (Paperback)
I grew up in the seventies when this was required reading. My overwhelming memories of this book were the long, complex sentences and slow storyline. Reading this book as a 13 year old was like wadding thigh-deep in treacle. I bought a copy recently hoping that age (I'm now in my forties) would allow me to read this with experienced eyes. Sadly I could not get much passed the fiftieth page before giving up. Why is this book still taught in schools? There are far better Scottish authors, such as Neil Gunn, who really are world class.
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Sunset Song
Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon (Paperback - 9 April 2006)
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