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on 11 March 2016
A week in the lives of the multifarious inhabitants of a fictional community on a tiny Orkney island. A novel I’d never heard of, first published in 1972, picked for discussion at a literature group I belong to. In her introduction to the 2004 Polygon edition, Ali Smith omits to say how funny it is. Indeed she’s at pains to emphasise that it is ‘a profoundly bleak novel’. So I began reading with considerable prejudice, intending to get a flavour and to stop after 30 pages or so. Instead I was soon completely beguiled. I smiled constantly and laughed out loud at least twice. A wonderful book, with lots of compelling storylines ranging in scope from high farce to gifted poetics, but never feeling pretentious.
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on 26 August 2017
Wonderful. What a believable community!
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on 4 September 2017
A very good read
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on 6 January 2016
love it great book good condition. well pleased
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on 26 May 2014
Obviously very well written but l just couldn't get in to it. That probably says more about me than the book.
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on 8 August 2015
Beautifully written book - magical yet somehow matter-of-fact. Reminded me of Under Milk Wood in its dream-like quality.
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on 23 April 2014
This was an Interesting and haunting read very descriptive. Sometimes a bit dull but overall it was well
worth reading
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on 28 May 2015
A tad complicated very enjoyable
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on 28 May 2014
I bought this on the strength of a review on Radio 4 (Lorraine Kelly with Kate Mosse). I am fascinated by Scottish islands so I thought I would love it but I didn't.
I'm not an avid reader of fiction but I always have a book on the go. I thought I might get an angle on island life from a time gone by but the book did not deliver. I found the plot unnecessarily convoluted, I didn't like the structure and ultimately there was little satisfaction from reading it (but I did stick with it).
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 6 November 2011
This was George's first novel, following magical, glimmering collections of poetry and short stories. Happily, despite the occasional awkward tone and structural problem, it manages to capture that unique vision he has of being able to portray the past, breathing over the shoulder of the present. He depicts the small community of Greenvoe trying to unite against the dark forces of the Black Star development, and paints the effects on individual lives, for whom the natural elements of wind, rain and cold had been their adverseries down the generations.

Interestingly, at the time George was writing this, Orkney was convulsed by opposition to proposed radium mining across her 'green glens and sleeping hills', and the parallels are clear for all to see. If you already know George's shorter work this would make the ideal start point to explore his novels; however, if you're unfamiliar with this 'master wordsmith of isolated places', I'd recommend the superb 'Calendar of Love' A Calendar of Love or 'A Time to Keep' A Time to Keep, or 'An Orkney Tapestry' (if available) Orkney Tapestry, which is a magical evocation of the spirit of Orkney, with beautiful line drawings by Sylvia Wishart.
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