God's Own Country by Ross Raisin
|God's Own Country by Ross Raisin|
|Category: Literary Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: Meet Sam Marsdyke, destined to be one of the great characters in literary fiction, in this unforgettable book. Highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 224||Date: February 2009|
Sam Marsdyke was not liked in the town. He'd always been a little strange with his preference for the moors and his own company, but it was the incident at school which really sealed his fate. In fairness there was more than a little room for misinterpretation when he was caught in the classroom with the girl but 'attempted rape' was possibly pushing matters a little far. In the end, Sam was expelled from school and the incident was forgotten by everyone other than the gossips who would never let it rest.
His mother couldn't show her face, his father made his mistrust and dislike clear and Sam was effectively isolated from the community. The farming community is shrinking though as farms are taken over by 'towns', that strange breed of people who come for welly weekends and a postcard view from the bedroom window. Mostly they learn quickly that Sam is to be avoided, but teenage Josephine has a rebellious streak and in the beginning, it's her that's pursuing Sam.
We hear the story in Sam's own words – and they are very much as he thinks them in the local dialect. Ross Raisin has captured this perfectly and managed to avoid the trap of making it as impenetrable as it can be on occasion. Down in the Yorkshire Dales, the dialect is all but lost: once you get up onto the Moors it thrives. Even if the story was nothing the book would still be a linguistic masterpiece.
The story, though, is chilling and gripping, the humour black. Sam is one of the great characters of modern fiction – well-intentioned, occasionally intuitive, but more often completely oblivious to the reactions of other people and a true obsessive. Animals he understands and he can be gentle and nurturing with them – or viciously murderous. The story is a trip into Sam's mind as we see the precarious balance tipped by Josephine's wild schemes.
Raisin captures the moors too, with their wildness and stark beauty. There's antagonism to moorland – it doesn't welcome visitors – and you can't read the book without feeling this. Don't be tempted to try and follow the geography as you'll find some of it disappointing – just remember that it's literature that you've bought not a map.
The book is highly recommended and I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag. We also have a review of Waterline by Ross Raisin.
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You can read more book reviews or buy God's Own Country by Ross Raisin at Amazon.com.
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