When the novelist Joanne Phillips recommended Linda Gillard‘s books on her website, I admit I’d never heard of her, but because I respect Joanne’s judgement, and I was stocking up my Kindle with holiday reading, I thought I’d give her a try. With a range of her e-books available on Amazon, each with heaps of 5 star reviews, I was spoiled for choice. (Why does any thinking woman buy magazines for twice the price of e-books, I wonder?)
I chose Emotional Geology because it offered lots of ingredients guaranteed to draw me in: the intriguing Hebrides, where I’d holidayed the previous year; a love of textiles and quilting; the brooding presence of the Munros and hill-walking (my Scottish husband’s passion); plus a beautiful, evocative image of the Highlands & Islands on the cover (even though I was planning to read it on a monochrome Kindle in Luxembourg!) The theme of bipolar was not so much of an attraction. But when I began to read it, I realised that the book’s balanced view from within one of the characters of what it is like to live with that disorder would add further interest and poignancy to this moving story of a woman damaged by past loves and losses, attempting to build a meaningful future.
Intelligent & Masterful
I adored the style in which the complex tale was slowly, meticulously unfolded. It was intelligent, controlled, and masterful: I felt I was putty in the author’s hands. It is certainly one of the best books I’ve read this year, and I’m now going to work my way through the rest of her books, and I’m glad to know that she’s writing more. (It’s always good to find that a writer you enjoy is prolific, as I wrote recently on my Off The Shelf post inspired by M C Beaton, “How to Sell More Books: Write More Books“, and on my personal tribute to her on my YoungByName blog.) Even though all of Linda Gillard’s books sound quite different, I’m sure they’ll all be worth reading.
Sometimes you just get hooked on a writer whose company you enjoy, and will read anything they’ve written, even if they’re writing on a subject that doesn’t interest you. I first fell in love with Gerald Durrell through the books about his extraordinary family, for example, and then went on to lap up the books about his animals. It’s probably making him spin in his grave that my journey was that way round – but I have to say I was also moved to tears when I finally got round to visiting his zoo on Jersey a couple of years ago. For me it was not so much about visiting the animals, but visiting the shrine of a literary hero – but I digress. Back to Linda Gillard and more northerly islands….
Having read quite a few books set in the Hebrides, both fictional and autobiographical, I felt that Emotional Geology was the one that the locals would most appreciate – respectful, honest about the harshness of the conditions there, yet celebratory of their lifestyle and culture, and never, ever patronising, as many books about the islands and the islanders have been. If the Scottish Tourist Board isn’t already selling this book in its shops, it’s missing a trick!
Kindle & Paperback
Emotional Geology was also one of those books that once I’d read it on Kindle, I just had to get the paperback too, not only because it will look beautiful on my bookshelf (Kindle, much as I love you, you’re no use on that score) but because I know it’s a book I’ll want to dip into again, to re-read and to show and recommend to my friends. Just like the books by Joanne Phillips. Which is where I came in…
For more about Linda Gillard and her work, visit her website: www.lindagillard.co.uk, which also contains a link to Amazon where you can order her books.
To read Linda Gillard’s fascinating interview on Joanne Phillip’s website, click here.