Emotional Geology Paperback – 10 Jun 2005
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"Lyrical, haunting and intriguing." - Isla Dewar
Rose Leonard is on the run from her life. Taking refuge in a remote island community, she cocoons herself in work, silence and solitude in a house by the sea. But she is haunted by her past, by memories and desires she'd hoped were long dead. Rose must decide whether she has in fact chosen a new life or just a different kind of death. Life and love are offered by new friends, her lonely daughter, and most of all Calum, a fragile younger man who has his own demons to exorcise. But does Rose, with her tenuous hold on life and sanity, have the courage to say yes to life and put her past behind her?
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Rose reaches a point where she can't take any more of this life style and when, to cap it all, he leaves her for another woman she flips and has to spend time in a psychiatric ward, where careful treatment with drugs return her to a degree of normality.
She decides to set up home on the Hebridean island of North Uist, which has no hills (and certainly no mountains!) and is mainly characterised by lots of small lochans. Here she meets Calum, a teacher and poet. Calum is divorced, and is himself haunted by having left a wife and a teaching post in a violent Glasgow school. He is however fully in control of his personal life.
Rose who is an artist working with textiles is attracted and ... you need to read the book to find out more!
I can however vouch for the geology. I once spent a wonderful summer holiday camping and climbing on Skye. I have visited the Hebrides (Lewis) but never set foot on North Uist although the daughter of a friend lived there for a couple of years before moving to South Uist where her children went to the same school that 'Calum' teaches in.
This story drew me in right away. Rose in a vulnerable and sympathetic character and the story is well written and never dull. It concludes with the perfect closure, leaving her free to love again.
Such difficult themes are wrapped up in the author's wonderful descriptions of the island landscape and interesting depictions of island life. The talk of the climbing world too, and Rose' s work with textiles, sugar-coat the bitter pain of the characters' lives for the reader. The image of mountains is woven throughout the story and their appearance right at the end was wonderful. I felt a bit bereft when the story came to an end, saying goodbye to Rose, Callum and their island life.
Only thing I would have changed was too much (for me) explanation through dialogue. Especially when crucial revelations were made towards the end, I'd have preferred Rose in the first person telling me, for the sake of brevity and a more poetic feel. But that's just personal preference.
Really glad I found this author, can't wait to read the rest of her work. She's a bit of a find!
The title of the book was very apt, but I wonder if the story needed to be longer to give this more meaning - certain areas seemed to be rushed. The main character, Rose, was likeable, but one wonders if her relationship with the main male character was a good idea - they seemed locked in a battle to trump each others misery.
Textiles feature regularly in Linda Gillard's stories - they are a passion of mine, so I liked this angle of the story, however, I never really felt in this book as I read it, therefore I have only given it three stars as an OK read - it's well written, there's no problem there (although I dislike phrases written in dialect), I just couldn't 'get with' it.