Most helpful positive review
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 11 February 2013
`Orkney' by Amy Sackville is an odd story skilfully crafted and emotionally draining. It is essentially about the effects of obsession. Richard who narrates is beguiled with his much younger wife. He wants to possess her both physically and mentally. Because of the forty years age difference Richard worries that she will have a life one day separate from him. The young woman (whose name is never revealed) is an unearthly, ethereal creature with strange silvery grey flowing hair. She is fascinated by the might and power of the sea- at night she dreams of being engulfed by it (she cannot swim), during daylight she wanders the shoreline or stares out into the horizon. Newly married they are honeymooning in a small cottage. Richard is on sabbatical working on his opus a book about enchantment and folklore observing his wife she recalls to him many of the women that he is writing about `she is Protean, a Thetis , a daughter of the sea, as shape-shifting goddess who must be subdued `. Instead of working he glazes out at his wife framed by the window.
In many ways `Orkney' and the sea is also a central character. There are long beautifully rendered passages minutely observing the shifting landscape as the waves ebb and flow. The narrative when describing the changing light and colour is pure and lyrical. I can almost hear the roaring of the sea and see the changes in the skyline. I liked the way the landscape echoed the story of the couple. As his behaviour towards her becomes more and more possessive the elements change, a mighty storm erupts and the sea appears in his dreams as well. Daylight becomes shorter and nights lengthen and we sense the unsettling nature of their relationship. They spend evenings together drinking whisky and she relates ancient tales of mermaids and Selkies.
The story is only told by Richard and it did occur to me several times that Richard had lost grip on reality that what he was relating may only exist in his mind. I felt that the line between fiction and reality was blurred.
Brilliantly written `Orkney' is an excellent read to savour, clever and finely constructed by a really talented Writer.