Top positive review
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a surprise page turner, completely beguiling
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.