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The Still Point Paperback – 4 Feb 2010

3.7 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Paperback, 4 Feb 2010
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Portobello Books Ltd (4 Feb. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846272297
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846272295
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 2.5 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 906,061 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'A beautiful, unearthly novel, in which secrets continually open out onto a wild glare of Arctic light' --Francis Spufford, author of The Child That Books Built

`Sackville writes with great assurance and wonderfully evokes the polar landscape and the atmosphere of the period. A most promising debut' --Penelope Lively

`Remarkable both as stylist and storyteller, Sackville unfolds a love story of compelling contrasts ... a fine and distinctive first novel'

--Maura Dooley

`The two worlds of ice and heat, a century apart, are carefully balanced by exquisitely restrained prose' --Guardian

`An exceptional debut novel ... She writes like a younger Rachel Cusk, precise poetry undercut by dry wit' --Financial Times

`Spanning a single day, the novel's dream-like structure belies its linguistic and emotional precision ... a poised beginning' --Daily Mail

'As iridescent in its writing as the snowy wastelands it evokes ... This is a novel of palpable promise' --Times Literary Supplement

'Sackville creates some soaring prose, full of elegance and confidence'
--The List

About the Author

AMY SACKVILLE was born in 1981. She studied English and Theatre Studies at Leeds, and went on to an MPhil in English at Exeter College, Oxford, and last year completed the MA in Creative & Life Writing at Goldsmiths. Her short stories have been published in anthologies and literary journals. This is her first novel.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Julia is the great-grand-niece of Edward Mackley, a polar explorer at the turn of the century, who newly married to Emily, left on an expedition and was never seen alive again after a group of men set out for the North Pole from their ship the Persephone. Emily, effectively abandoned after their honeymoon, waited all her life for him to come back.

Julia, who is married to Simon, lives in the Mackley family house and is guardian of the archive from the ill-fated expedition. Some of the ship's crew survived, and eventually Edward's body was recovered along with his personal effects. Julia is an utter romantic and loved hearing all the stories of derring-do as a child.

The action in this novel takes place over twenty-four hot and sultry hours in the life of Julia and Simon. Their marriage is in something of a rut, but we start off in bed after a now uncharacteristic moment of passion. Simon, ever precise, goes off to work leaving Julia to work in the attic cataloging the collection, but she gives herself over to re-reading the ship's log and Mackley's diary on this hot summer day. Gradually Mackley and Emily's story and that of Julia and Simon reveal themselves to us as the day goes on, and there are surprises in store ...

I liked the way the author told us Julia and Simon's story in the summer heat and the present tense, and that of Emily and Mackley's arctic adventure in the past. The fact that it all takes place over one day made me cross my fingers that it wouldn't resemble If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor - another book that unfolds over a single day, but which I didn't get on with.
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Format: Paperback
The beautiful imagery and personal detail Ms Sackville uses in the intricate narrative makes it a delight to read. It is a vividly drawn journey between the cold wastes of the north (almost feeling the frostbite), the loneliness of the waiting wife in Edwardian England, and the bittersweet relationships of today. A skilled wordsmith, the author draws you in through the intense highs and raw pain of that longed-for perfect romance, and confronts the frustrations and distances between lovers. On a practical note, the novel is a perfect length for a weekend curled up in front of the fire and will impress any lover of fine literature.
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Format: Paperback
David Attenborough reached the North Pole as I finished this novel today; the explorer, Edward Mackley, and his crew were not so lucky. Set at the beginning of the nineteenth centure, Mackley and that part of the story seems to be based on the experiences of several explorers - probably Scott, Shackleton and the Franklin expedition. A century later Mackley's descendant, Julia, now lives in the same house as Emily, Mackley's wife, who waited for him for the rest of her life. Julia is now the guardian of Mackley's legacy and her own life and marriage parallels the story of Edward and Emily. This is a stunning novel: it is wonderfully lyrical but also very controlled and it reads like the work of a major author on top of their game. We are guided effortlessly back and forth in time and place. The book works largely through images and metaphor: the descriptions of the ice are breath taking; the house becomes increasingly oppressive and is skillfully realised. There is much to think about in this book but it is an effortless read because the quality of the writing is so fine. It deserves to win every prize going. Something as great as this does not come along every day - can't recommend it enough.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Anyone who appreciates the beauty of the English language must surely enjoy the experience of reading this book. Apart from the occasional glaringly ugly sentence, mainly towards the end, it's beautifully written, almost poetic in the imagery and quality of descriptions. The story too has the potential to fascinate - twenty-four hours in modern-day Julia's marriage interspersed with diaries and speculation about her great-great-uncle's doomed expedition to the North Pole while his young bride, Emily, whiles away her days waiting for the homecoming that would never happen.

Julia and Simon have moved into the explorer's family home, a house of many rooms, stuffed like a museum with Edward's treasures from his earlier Arctic adventures.
You don't have to read far to realise that this is a talented author who will hopefully write many more beautiful books. But although I loved both the idea and the style of the writing, there were aspects that I felt were weak and which therefore spoilt it for me.

Julia herself was the biggest weakness in my view. Despite reading about the detail of her day, with flashbacks to fill in her background story, I never felt I knew her as a person. Not only am I, the reader, made to feel like an observer, I am actually told that I am one, as in, for instance, `You can draw a little nearer, if you're very quiet.' Such comment, and many more besides, destroyed any illusion that I was going to share these people's lives and experience with them how they felt. It is a device used most conspicuously in the early pages of the book, and one that I particularly disliked. As a result, Julia remained a complete unknown so far as I was concerned, despite being the central character. I never understood her or how or why she functioned as she did.
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