Beside the Ocean of Time, George Mackay Brown
This is a book about Orkney and the layers of history present in Orkney’s culture. It took a while to get into but was well worth it. I read it slowly, a chapter a day. This was initially because it was difficult to get into, but it is such a beautifully crafted book that I wanted to take the time to read it thoroughly. Brown has a gift for writing prose that seems quite sparse but is actually full of meaning and really grabs the reader. I particularly enjoyed the chapter about the broch and the bittersweet-ness of the final chapters on Orkney’s experiences during the Second World War. Although this story is about Thorfinn Ragnorsen, the real focus of the book is Orkney itself. I love books like this, that have a real deep-seated sense of place. I’ve been to Orkney once and am otherwise fairly unfamiliar with it, but this book made me feel that I was there, in much the same way as Charlotte Brontë‘s Shirley makes me feel that I am back in West Yorkshire.