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The Hills is Lonely

3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  512 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
The Hills is Lonely tells a simple tale: needing to recuperate from an illness, the author finds a suitable retreat on the Hebridean island of Bruach, whose inhabitants, routines, and rituals are as eccentric and entertaining as any reader could wish. Beckwith's narrative describing island life is filled with humor, surprise, affection, and keen observance. Originally publ ...more
Paperback, 309 pages
Published September 1st 2002 by Akadine Press (first published 1959)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,004)
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Sam Schulman
May 18, 2010 Sam Schulman rated it it was amazing
This part of the "Hebridean Omnibus" is one of the great re-readable books - a true-ish memoir of a London lady of middle years and a little bit of money who spends a few months recovering from an illness on a remote Hebridean island, falls in love with it and moves there, originally published 1959-64. It is one of the precursors of the A Year in Provence genre, only a hundred times better, less self-conscious, less class-conscious though less "matey," more observant, less sick-making, and compl ...more
Melody
Aug 28, 2009 Melody rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I think goodreads needs a "tried to read and failed" button in the drop-down menu.

I thought I would enjoy this, based on the other reviews here and just the look of the book, but I was unable to push on past page 90.
Joanne
Apr 11, 2012 Joanne rated it it was amazing
I love this book. I didn't want it to end. It's cold and rainy, I'll make hot buttered oatcakes and a pot of tea.
Kathleen Dixon
I think it was the 6th book in this collection that I read years and years ago. I clearly enjoyed it because when I saw this boxed collection of six on a trading table I thought "Oh yes!" and immediately purchased it.

My tastes obviously haven't changed over the years. I laughed and laughed. I wonder, though, if I might perhaps have a bigger appreciation now I'm older (or have had different experiences, perhaps is what I mean to say). For example, now that I've taught English as a Second Language
...more
Jessica
Sep 09, 2013 Jessica rated it it was amazing
I should have a Re-read shelf; this is my second time through this wonderful series full of unforgettable, quotable characters, set in the wild isolation of 1940's Scottish Hebrides. It's even better this time around. I class this series with: A Year In Provence, Lark Rise To Candleford, Little House on the Prairie, Under The Tuscan Sun, All Creatures Great And Small. My favorite genre of books: while I'm being thoroughly entertained, I'm learning "how they did it" - how people in a culture or t ...more
W.R. Gingell
Jan 10, 2016 W.R. Gingell rated it it was amazing
I found a book in an opshop one day. That's not unusual, of course. I've found many books in many opshops around Australia (and a few in America). It was in one of my book-binge shops, where I ended up with a whole plastic bag full of books at 10c each, paperback and hardback alike.

That book was THE HILLS IS LONELY by Lillian Beckwith. I picked it up sheerly because I liked the title, but the blurb on the back really sold it. The blurb read:

When Lillian Beckwith advertised for a secluded place i
...more
Cindy
Sep 23, 2015 Cindy rated it it was amazing
This book was a pleasure to read. The English narrator moves to a tiny town in the Hebrides islands of Scotland - for vague health reasons. She there experiences the culture shock of what is, in essence, an entirely new world. The stories of her adventures in her first two years there are wickedly funny, but also show genuine affection for these wacky people. The language was the root of many of the funniest passages. The title comes from the description of the charms of the place from Beckwith' ...more
Kari
Jun 24, 2007 Kari rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: expats in the UK
Maybe another time, in another mood. I had heard great things about this suposedly insightful, funny book, but when I tried reading it I just couldn't get into it.

I think part of it was that I had just finished a really good, fast-paced fiction book and the switch to expat life and daily anecdotes from 1950s Scotland seemed a bit bland. So that's my mistake, not the writer's fault.
C.
Feb 14, 2016 C. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Hills Is Lonely” is a memorable true story published in 1959, after Englishwoman, Lillian Beckwith moved to Scotland’s Hebrides. She comically described an ill-educated reply to her advertisement for a peaceful cottage rental. Lillian describes laughing over the phrasing of Morag’s replies, conjuring the impression of a simpleton. Upon arrival at her Bruach croft we learn she is warm-hearted, eager to please, a respected elder, and very smart. The matter is merely that their isle was isolat ...more
Ann
Dec 15, 2012 Ann rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
I thought from the reviews that I would really enjoy this book. However maybe I wasn’t in the right mood as about a third of the way in I lost interest and gave up. It just felt very dated and I felt the tone of the book was rather patronizing. The locals characters described by the author seemed more like caricatures than real people.
Shannon
Dec 09, 2015 Shannon rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite book. All time favorite. I really put it up there, right with the good book itself. But with that being said, you have to enjoy a few things before you will enjoy this book.
Lillian Beckwith writes in an almost essayist manner. It is very much like sitting with a good story teller and listening to one yarn after another. They seem to melt into one another, never forced or contrived. Although it almost has a rambling nature to it, it is also poetic at the same time. She is a h
...more
Mary Diegert
Aug 18, 2011 Mary Diegert rated it liked it
This book is very easy to read and is an informative memoir about a 40ish unmarried British woman who took up residence around the 1950s on one of the islands in the Hebrides off the coast of Scotland. The island of Bruach is fictional, and the characters are too, but they are clearly based on people she knew. The residents are mostly "crofters" which means tenant farmers. The lifestyle is spartan and lacking in amenities such as indoor plumbing, but she was apparently attracted to the simple li ...more
Iain
Sep 28, 2013 Iain rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A gentle, warm and good-natured tale of an Englishwoman abroad in the Hebrides. The observations and dialogue are very enjoyable. This is an older book that is clearly of its time (it was published in 1959) in terms of its language, but it's all part of the enjoyment. You could argue that this is stuck up Imperialist type anthropology - "behold these strange island savages" type thing - but this would be to overlook both the amount of time the author spent there and the genuine warmth and affect ...more
Peter Stevens
Jul 19, 2015 Peter Stevens rated it liked it
This is the first book of the semi-autobiographical series, telling of life on the Hebrides. I have read them all several times and still have not decided whether the author is poking fun at the "Bruachites" or at herself. Certainly, when this one was published in 1959, it was not well received by the islanders. None-the-less, I continue to enjoy reading about the exploits of the characters who have been most expertly created by "Miss Peckwitt."
Carol Lawrie
Mar 31, 2016 Carol Lawrie rated it liked it
A book about island life in the Hebrides. Captures the daily goings on and challenges with humour and compassion. Living in the north of Scotland I can see the impact such hardship caused with many of the more negative aspects still felt. I enjoyed it's twists and turns through the changing seasons however won't be reading the others in the series. One is enough... I know of others who would devour this though.
Rowenah
Mar 05, 2014 Rowenah rated it liked it
Incredibly patronising but 'fond' view of Islanders from an English ex school marm who moved to Skye, and written in an annoying quip after quip style, but interesting from a social history point of view of what life was like in the Hebrides in the 1950s (if you get past the view that all the Islanders were halfwits and the author was the only voice of reason).
Stormy
Apr 16, 2015 Stormy rated it it was amazing
The travelogue is so captivating that it made me want to visit the Hebrides. It was lent to me by my friend who knits and even travels to Scotland to buy her yarn -- she loves the Northerners and I can see why. The book is out of print, but you might be able to find a copy through inter-library loan.
Suzie Martin
Written from the viewpoint of a middle-aged spinster (I guess I fall into that category ;} who needs to heal and seeks out an island retreat in Scotland full of eccentric people. It's a hoot. Stuck in my mind forever and being half Scottish, it tickles my funny bone.
John
Mar 25, 2014 John rated it liked it
Of its time, perhaps, and a little one note, but its a very good one. Nowadays a writer would be expected to include long prose-poem passages on the beauty/isolatedness/savagery of the Hebridean landscape, so luckily we are spared that. Funny, with a Jane Austinish tone, and refreshingly free of sentimentality. Quite harsh and bracing at times even. As usual, one wants to know more; how true is it? What was the mysterious ailment that lead her to convalesce? How did she pay for this sojourn? Why ...more
Krista
Jul 05, 2010 Krista rated it really liked it
Lillian Beckwith, advised by her doctor to recover in a restful place, retired from her teaching job and moved to a small Scottish island. This book recounts her adventures during her first year there, becoming acquainted with local customs and people. She relates her stories with humor and affection. The island's windswept beauty contrasts at times with the rather rough existence its citizens eke out, and Beckwith does not spare the unsavory bits. The perspective is refreshing after a slew of r ...more
CuteBadger
I loved Lillian Beckwith's Bruach books in my early teens and read them all more than once, so thought I would revisit them over 30 years later to see if they still held their magic.

I remembered this first book in the series very well, but on reading it as an adult I found it more than slightly uncomfortable as it seemed the author had a cruel edge to her mocking of the island's inhabitants. She makes obvious her feelings of superiority over the islanders and treats them like a lost native tribe
...more
Giselle
Mar 23, 2014 Giselle rated it really liked it
Shelves: biographical
I laughed out loud reading this. At times the people seem a little over-the-top but it was fun to read about her adventures.
Jennifer Aitkens
Jan 24, 2014 Jennifer Aitkens rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I read this book while staying in a tiny cabin on Saltspring Island, BC. The warmth of the fictionalized close-knit community, as described by the Englishwoman at the heart of the story, made me long for the good old days I'd never known.
Tim
Apr 16, 2014 Tim rated it really liked it
One of her many books I read as a child in Moidart...
Bruth George
Feb 11, 2016 Bruth George rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hebrides
outstanding for humor and colorful language
April
Jun 20, 2014 April rated it did not like it
Disappointing. It just seemed to me that the author was constantly making fun of the Scottish people. It made me uncomfortable.
lowercase
Feb 25, 2009 lowercase rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-love
witty and tart, this is a character sketch of a time that no longer exists in a place where few have ventured. it's a collection of short tales, really, that combine to create an insightful portrait of an isolated village at the end of the world, and the people who bring it to life in charming, delightful, and completely individual ways. if the writer is occasionally a bit patronizing towards those of whom she writes, it can be forgiven, because she doesn't spare herself from her own pointed obs ...more
Sandie
Jul 02, 2011 Sandie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
This book was lent to me by a friend to read in preparation for a trip to Scotland. There is no plot, but a series of vignettes about life in the Hebrides in the late 1940s or early 50s.

Lillian Beckwith goes from a northern England town to the remote and rural Hebrides to live with one of the crofters for several years. Her descriptions of the villagers and her interactions with them are often funny. Her descriptions of Hebridean life are good as well.
Jan
Apr 10, 2014 Jan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
Enjoyed the setting and the time period and the hysterically funny situations. You would think the author somewhat condescending and snide if it weren't for her obvious affection for the people and the Isle of Skye. Although some libraries have this listed as biography, I'm sure she used much artistic license. Will read more of the series.
Gill
I enjoyed this book and didn't find the authors attitudes towards the crofters patronising or superior. I felt that her attitude was probably very fitting to the time in which it was written. It actually reminded me of Miss Reads writing. I will definitely be looking out to read another of her books.
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Lilian Comber wrote fiction and non-fiction for both adults and children under the pseudonym Lillian Beckwith. She is best known for her series of comic novels based on her time living on a croft in the Scottish Hebrides.

Beckwith was born in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, in 1916, where her father ran a grocery shop. The shop provided the background for her memoir About My Father's Business, a child’s
...more
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