Gin and Tolstoy (Summer 2018): Book 6

(15 Posts)
KeithLeMonde Sun 01-Jul-18 17:35:41

Discussion thread for group 1, book 6

OP’s posts: |
Fizzywinegum Sun 01-Jul-18 20:19:34

I think this is my book. I’m re-reading it as it’s been a while since I last read this book. As I’m re-reading it I’ve realised that the subject matter is quite dark and I hope it’s not too dark for the book swap - if it is I apologise.

If you stick with it, the story does get more positive.

I chose this book because I like the description of Orkney, especially the nature. It’s somewhere that I’ve always wanted to visit.

I also like the contrast between the description of London life and life on the island.

Looking forward to reading everyone’s views.

iloveredwine Thu 05-Jul-18 20:45:44

I'm about a third through the book and I am enjoying it more now. I am Scottish so a lot of the descriptive words and phrases are familiar to me. I had never heard of this book or author so I am enjoying a new experience 😊

Fizzywinegum Fri 06-Jul-18 12:08:40

Hello iloveredwine (so do I!) glad you are enjoying the book a bit more.

When I was re-reading the book I was a bit worried that it might be a bit gloomy but I did like the description of island life.

It will be interesting to know what you think at the end of the book.

iloveredwine Tue 10-Jul-18 19:44:37

Just finished the book. I can't say it is one I would have chosen but I did enjoy it once I got into it. The difference between the Orkney islands and London was a huge contrast. The story was quite dark and hard to follow during the London episodes but the description of the way of life in Orkney was magical. Well worth a read x

Fizzywinegum Thu 12-Jul-18 08:50:20

Glad you enjoyed it in the end iloveredwine.

I think the London bits reflect how she was feeling at the time and seem quite chaotic. I too enjoyed the description of island life and the nature and the birds.

tobee Thu 08-Nov-18 12:44:38

Just finished reading this.

I, too, enjoyed reading it. Such a story could easily have been very self indulgent, but using the background of Orkney, stopped it from being that.

Most of the time I found it very easy to read, especially if you don't get phased by the jumps in chronology.

My favourite bits were the passages monitoring the corncrakes.

I wondered what it would have been like if she'd written it after more decades? It would have lost the freshness of the experiences, but might also have been interesting to have further perspective.

During the passages in London, I found myself thinking about my book that's out on this swap. Which I found an interesting comparison.

I think I'd heard of this book at the time of its publication and success, but I'd forgotten about it, so thanks for the inclusion.

Fizzywinegum Thu 08-Nov-18 16:27:07

Glad you enjoyed it tobee. I think I’ve got your book this month so should be interesting to compare them smile

tobee Thu 08-Nov-18 18:47:18


KeithLeMonde Wed 21-Nov-18 12:30:20

This would have been a re-read for me and I am not sure whether I will get time to read it again. However, I am so glad this was included in the swap as I think it's a really interesting book.

I read it earlier this year and find myself recommending it to lots of people, each of whom I think will get something different from it. For some it's the descriptions of the natural world, for others the Orkney settings, and for others again it's the arc of the story - the way that the author heals her life.

This is what I wrote about it on the 50 Books thread earlier this year:

"The depiction of island life, Orkney history and (especially) myths and legends is well done, and she writes beautifully about the natural world and our connection with it. My only criticism is the pacing - the earlier parts of the book, describing her edgy London life, her period in rehab and her initial move back to the Orkneys, are almost too full, while the latter part slows right down and feels repetitive.

I found myself recommending it to a very varied group of friends, all of whom I thought would get something different from it."

Actually, Tobee, reading your comments now I think I want to re-read this one if I can, and compare it to yours. Maybe a spell counting birds in the Orkneys was what JR needed, had she only known it?

OP’s posts: |
tobee Wed 21-Nov-18 12:44:57

Lol, yes! I know I quite fancy it.

diamantegal Wed 20-Feb-19 18:37:31

I'm not sure how I felt about this one. At times I really liked the style of writing, and found the idea of her transformation quite uplifting. And then at others, I found it too self-indulgent and isolated - especially as the pace slowed down in the second half of the book, I just wanted something to happen, or have a bit of dialogue.

Interesting book though, and a great choice for the swap, even if I'm being indecisive about it!

RosehipHoney Mon 11-Mar-19 13:56:12

Fizzywinegum - do you want the book back?

RosehipHoney Mon 11-Mar-19 13:59:11

I read this last summer, so haven't reread. I really enjoyed it - especially the Scottish parts, and descriptions of swimming and bird listening at night. It needed the London sections for balance, but I didn't enjoy these nearly as much.

Fizzywinegum Thu 14-Mar-19 16:16:42

Hi RosehipHoney no I don’t want the book back thank you - glad you enjoyed it even though you’d already read it. It was definitely a book that stayed with me long after I’d read it so was pleased to be able to share it with others.

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