Orkney by Amy Sackville

bookshelves: orkney, britain-scotland, hardback, one-penny-wonder, paper-read, spring-2014, library-in-norway, seven-seas, newtome-author, contemporary, lit-richer, under-500-ratings, handbag-read, midlife-crisis, mythology, fantasy

Recommended for: Wanda, TA
Read from March 26 to April 19, 2014


Dedication: For my grandparents, Nancy and Joseph

Description: On a remote island in Orkney, a curiously matched couple arrive on their honeymoon. He is an eminent literature professor; she was his pale, enigmatic star pupil. Alone beneath the shifting skies of this untethered landscape, the professor realises how little he knows about his new bride and yet, as the days go by and his mind turns obsessively upon the creature who has so beguiled him, she seems to slip ever further from his yearning grasp. Where does she come from? Why did she ask him to bring her north? What is it that constantly draws her to the sea?

Opening: She’s staring out to sea now. My young wife. There she stands on the barren beach, all wrapped up in her long green coat, among the scuttle and clatter of pebbles and crabs. She stares out as the water nears her feet and draws back, and when that soft and insistenet suck of the tide gets close enough to slurp at her toes she shuffles herself up the shore. Soon the beach will be reduced to a strip of narrow sand and she will be forced to retreat to the rocks; and then, I think, she’ll come back to me.

I ordered this paying little attention as to just what the story was about. An Orkney island, Westray, and a one-penny deal on a hardback – sorted!

However after 50 pages or so, I was thinking that this is going to a place I don’t particularly want go. And if you had missed the subtle leads up to that point, Sackville starts lumping her readers over the head with clues for the rest of the book. You are left in no doubt at all and it all ends the way these myths are supposed to end.

The writing is worth the ramble, it is what kept me to the end – those wonderful descriptions of the bays, skies and seas I am a sucker for.

There is just one question left: did he?

2.5* Orkney
2* The Still Point

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