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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable achievement
The last time writer Andrew Greig visited elderly Scottish poet Norman MacCaig before his death, he asked where his favorite place in the world was. MacCaig, who divided his life between Edinburgh and Assynt in the far north-west replied that it was a remote hill loch. It had been many years since Norman had been fit enough to visit the spot, and he asked Andrew Greig to...
Published on 18 April 2010 by doublegone

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars almost
I like Maccaig and know Assynt well and, as a climber, had read Greig's Everest book many years ago.I very much enjoyed the first half of this book - which is beautifully and perceptively written. I felt, however, that the whole was less than the sum of its parts and became a little disappointed by what seemed to me to be an over zealous attempt to knit together too...
Published on 6 July 2012 by Andrew Ogilvie


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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At the Loch of the Green Corrie, 18 April 2012
The best book I have ready in many years. Lyrical prose and deep compassion revealed profound insights relating to both inner and outer worlds.
Highly recommended.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars So nearly very good, 6 Oct. 2013
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This book was so nearly very good, but sadly it subsided into morbid self-obsession.

Andrew Greig has published a few novels (including "The Return of John Macnab", which would certainly rank among my fifty favourite novels) along with several volumes of verse, and it was his work as a poet that brought him to the attention of elderly Scottish poet Norman MacCaig. At a meeting not long before MacCaig's death Greig promised to fish at the Loch of the Green Corrie, a site in Assynt (the far North West of Scotland). This book details the expedition that Greig and two of his friends undertook to make good that promise.

Greig's prose is generally lucid and incisive (presumably as a consequence of his talent as a poet), and when he is describing the landscape of Assynt the book is enchanting, as it also is when he talks about (and extensively quotes from) MacCaig's poems. However, too much of the book dwells on torrid episodes from Greig's own past, and to my mind these mar the flow of the book.

I am glad that I read this, but I would hesitate to recommend it to anyone who does not have my own love of the Highlands, Read his "The Return of John Macnab" or even John Buchan's original "John Macnab" instead.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite my thing, 27 Sept. 2011
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I also found the episodic nature of the book made me lose interest. For me it didn't quite hit the spot as an evocative account of space and place like say Alan Moorhead does for instance, and I found the frequent diversions and reverie a bit distracting and not well connected to the main thread of the book.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but..., 18 Dec. 2010
I bought this on the basis of the reviews and the TV prog. - it is perhaps overhyped - interesting but episodic and lost my interest as it went on. If you want to learn about life, aging, experience etc better to buy Norman McCaig's collected works and start your journey there - "And the lights flood down, revealing mountains and flowers and so many shadows. If only a merlin would hurtle past, that atom of speed, that molecule of life."
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4 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What a Disappointment !, 5 July 2010
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I have been very enthusiastic about Andrew Greig for a number of years, and I was very excited when I saw he written another book.
This book is not his best, it is nostalgic twaddle and confessional drivel with a few very good poems by Norman MacCiag to split the chapters.
I was let down by this Book.
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7 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Self Indulgence Scottish Style, 23 April 2011
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John Fitzpatrick (São Paulo, Brazil) - See all my reviews
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This is a Scottish version of "Eat, Pray, Love", that narcissistic piece of flakiness by Elizabeth Gilbert in which she mercilessly regales us with the details of her private life following her divorce.

Greig is not quite as blatantly self-centered and brings in a middle man viz. Norman MacCaig, the Scottish poet who died in 1996, thereby hooking his fortune to that of someone of far greater stature.

The book centers on a request Greig claims MacCaig once made for him to go and fish after his death in the Loch of the Green Corrie in the Assynt area of the northwest Highlands.

This is a relief after Gilbert's more ambitious travels to Italy, India and Indonesia as Greig only had to drive for a few hours to get there from Edinburgh.

The journey and the arrival are tedious and the descriptions of finding this loch read like a parody e.g. "Now properly equipped, we left Ullapool... and took the A832 to Lochinver, in search of a man called Norman MacAskill."

For those of you don't known the Highlands of Scotland, let me tell you that many of the places are nothing more than a name on the map and there are so few people about that that finding someone is not exactly a difficult task.(Particularly if this person is a native Scot, an endangered species these days as most the Highlands has been colonized by English, known locally as the "settlers".)

I gave up by page 80 as I could no longer stand Greig's "me, me, me" approach and his monotonous, detailed descriptions of cooking a meal by the loch, setting up his tent, talking to his friends, recalling mountain climbing trips to the Himalayas and references to his late father and his "lover".

If I was a relative of MacCaig, I would be annoyed as Greig is using the poet as a stepping stone and what he claims MacCaig once said to him to produce what is nothing more than a poorly-written banal account of his life at a certain period.

For what it is worth, I also knew MacCaig. He was my personal tutor at Stirling University almost 40 years ago and, although I admired him as a poet, he came over as a rather egoistical individual*. Based on my personal experience, I find it rather difficult to believe that the writer of this book achieved the kind of close relationship he claims although I admit I may be wrong here.

*There is a TV interview of him available on the Internet from the Scottish television series "Off the Page" where you can make your own judgment.
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