Friday, 7 March 2014

Emotional Geology by Linda Gillard

Review by Catriona Troth, author of Ghost Town.

“The days are very short, very dark and the wind is almost constant.  My new home, - my doll’s house – is small, but I like it that way.”

What We Thought:

Rose is a survivor of tragedy, betrayal and mental illness.  She has moved to North Uist, a place where she has no ties and no memories, in the hopes that she can manage her own condition and throw herself into her work as a textural artist without the deadening effects of medication.

But Rose cannot escape from human contact altogether. As her new neighbour Calum tells her, the islanders suffer from ‘indiscriminate generosity.’ “We do this for anyone – even folk we can’t stand!”

Calum is a poet and before long they are planning a joint project – textiles inspired by poems, poems interpreted through textiles. And Calum is worming his way through her defences in other ways.

Gillard’s style is sometimes fragmented, reflecting Rose’s state of mind. She moves back and forth between 1st and 3rd person, between past and present.  We see what Rose includes in her letters to her daughter, and also what she leaves out.  At times the narrative is almost raw with honesty, but at the same time it is redolent with hope.

You’ll enjoy this if you like: Patrick Gale, Ali Smith,

Avoid if you don’t like: Fragmented narrative, stories that tackle mental illness, poetic evocations of the landscapes of the Outer Hebrides

Ideal Accompaniment: A long walk along a Scottish beach, a view of the mountains and a glass of whisky.

Genre: Literary Love Story

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