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The Inn At The Edge Of The World

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  269 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
The five guests at the inn on a remote Scottish island have at least one thing in common—they are all in flight from Christmas. Are their respective unhappinesses impervious to the influence of the uncanny? This shrewd and witty gem, originally published in 1990, won the Best Novel award from Britain's Writers' Guild.
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Published August 29th 1991 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published September 1st 1990)
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The World
160th out of 183 books — 26 voters
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Cafes, Inns, Pubs and Restaurants In The Title
9th out of 32 books — 6 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Erin
Mar 06, 2008 Erin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I tried to read this, I really did. The premise seemed good, but it was slow and the characters didn't really interest me. So, while I've rated it I only got about 20% of the book read....
Mark
Haven't read any Alice Thomas Ellis for a while but I picked this up in a second hand book shop a couple of weeks ago and I saw it was about five people wishing to get away and miss the Christmas festivities so I thought it'd be quite fun to read it at the proper season. It didn't disappoint. Her dialogue is clever and witty without being shoveled into the story to show how clever and witty she is. It has mystery, hinted at romance, echoes of supernatural goings on, jealousy and unrequited admir ...more
Stevie
Apr 12, 2010 Stevie rated it it was ok
I am in the minority on this one. While I did find the characters interesting the book just didn't go anywhere quickly enough for me. I found myself simply wanting *something* to happen. Something does finally happen but by then I was so desperate for it, it wasn't nearly enough to up my star rating. Maybe I was in the wrong mood for this one as most of the humor struck me as annoying rather than clever.
John
Oct 23, 2009 John rated it liked it
As you'll imagine, it was the wonderful title that drew me to this book. The novel itself isn't, to be honest, quite as wonderful, but it's by no means a poor thing: I did like it, but it was a bit of a let-down after the title!

Eric, an Englishman who's bought a cottage hotel on a remote Hebridean island in the hopes that the isolation will stop his wife from sleeping around, places an ad in the English papers suggesting his hostelry as the ideal place for an Escape Christmas holiday. Five disp
...more
Isabel (kittiwake)
Dec 03, 2011 Isabel (kittiwake) rated it really liked it
Original review from May 2006

Have you noticed my fir?' asked the professor. Jessica, emerging from the sparse and anonymous forests of her imaginings, misunderstood him. Fur? Was he speaking of his own body hair? Was he perhaps a werewolf? Or was he drawing attention to some unappreciated mink, ocelot or garment of beaver?
'. . . planted it years ago,' he was saying. 'Whipped off the tinsel and the gewgaws, stuck it in the garden and now it's nearly sixty feet tall.'


An innkeeper on a remote Scott
...more
CMLiffengren
This novel has such a wonderful title, but I was disappointed that I never really settled into the story. The novel isn't divided into traditional chapters and without the break of chapters, I felt like I was slogging through a novel heavy on interior dialogue and light on plot. I had reached somewhere around page 130 before I sensed that something might happen. Maybe. Like the novel's remote locale of a Scottish island, the story always seemed distant to me as if I were watching the characters ...more
Ali
Dec 28, 2009 Ali rated it liked it
Another of my seasonal reads, which I finished after coming home from my Christmas holiday. Set on a remote Scottish island that is steeped in the myths and magic of the Selkies this seasonal novel about human misery is surprisingly readable, and not quite as rubbish as I had thought it might be, it is also quite funny in parts. The supernatural aspects to the story are done with a light touch, and add to the atmosphere created. The characters are well drawn with a certain amount of tounge in ch ...more
Emmkay
Ellis is a clever, witty - indeed rather acerbic - writer I've not come across before. She adeptly conveys the atmosphere of a small inn on a grey, claustrophobic remote Scottish island where a group of guests have gathered to escape the Christmas season. I think I've been cured of wanting to do the same after reading this book, however! For all the interior dialogue, I'm not sure the characters are particularly three-dimensional, but it was a good read. The touch of the supernatural is well-don ...more
Karen
Dec 18, 2008 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 - Really enjoyable, fast read. I'm always a little bit "weirded-out" by anything supernatural, but she flowed it into the story well. The depression around the Christmas holiday really resonated for me...the idea of escaping to somewhere far away is so appealing and she paints the picture of that in a way that totally draws you in. But the reality isn't as perfect (which makes sense), but there is still learning involved, as in all interesting experiences. Highly recommend.
Sarra Lord
Mar 19, 2010 Sarra Lord rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
An innkeeper on a remote Scottish island advertises his tiny inn as a holiday travel spot to get away from the holidays. Five travelers take him up on his advertisement and get both less and more than they bargained for when they encounter the native islanders, who are not quite what they seem.
Caty Clifton
Dec 21, 2010 Caty Clifton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book to read at Christmas,interesting cast of unrelated characters escaping from the holiday come together at an inn off the coast of Scotland and mix with the locals. Many laugh out loud scenes, interesting bits of history, and a wonderful sense of real place.
Adrienne Jones
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tammy V
Apr 14, 2011 Tammy V rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Marvelously sly and subtle little book. Innuendo. Hints. LOTS of interior dialogue used to build the main characters. Mist. Seals. Myth. PERFECT! on to the Sin Eaters (those are the only two in our library. I can see I'm going to have to spend some $$).
Katherine
May 08, 2010 Katherine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
"Ronald was still gazing into space. He looked profound or half-witted, according to your point of view" (66).
"Eric wished he was rich, because then he could afford to pour it down her jumper" (67).
"If he followed the metaphor through and it held, then it was to the viionaries, the mystics--even the religious--that the human race must turn in its search for enlightenment, while he and his kind continued poking round with a stick in the mud at whatever level they could reach" (79).
"The spectacle
...more
O Babs
Jul 11, 2016 O Babs rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
A quirky, delicious book that especially appeals around Christmastime, although this is the antithesis of Clement Moore, et al.

The adults who fetch up on the island are all trying to escape sentimental, predictable Christmas. None escape from themselves, despite their best efforts. Well written with touches of dry humor. Satisfies again on re-reading.
Anne
Mar 30, 2016 Anne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am almost finished with this story of a bunch of misfits who decide to spend Christmas "away from it all" . No one is happy including the Innkeeper and his wife and not one bit of Christmas ever arrives in this story. I kept hoping that someone would relent, break down and put up a Christmas tree, sing a Carol, or something. Gosh, I wanted to like it. I have about 20 pages or so to go and I do see hints of "the paranormal" but cannot figure the how or why it is IN the story at all. There is a ...more
Fémi Peters
Un livre au rythme plutôt lent mais agréable. On est plongé dans une atmosphère étrange et fantastique et on suit les aventures toutes intérieures des personnages. Les dialogues sont tout aussi décalés et savoureux que les personnages. J'ai été un peu déçue par la fin, mais sinon, un bon moment de lecture!
Emma
Sep 25, 2016 Emma rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Really did not enjoy this book, which is sad because I love books.
I just could not get 'into' it, half of did not make sense.
I did finish the book because it would have been a wasted journey otherwise.
I have two others written by Alice, which I shall read in case this one is a one off.
Imo
Feb 09, 2015 Imo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed the bulk of this book but was really disappointed by the ending. Still worth reading for the middle section of the book though, I liked the characters and relationships between them. Also disappointing was that One of the main twists of the book I guessed fairly early on
Teddi
May 25, 2015 Teddi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I liked the premise and the basic storylines of each person but it was so wordy that I found myself skipping over great chunks, especially where Harry reads from his book. If it all had been handled differently and a bit more succinctly, I'm sure I would have enjoyed it immensely.
Betty
Apr 16, 2013 Betty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been reading the Common Reader fiction reprints in my collection in original publication date order (tho I'm missing three). So far, this one was easier to read. More structured, an actual plot - not just a state of mind narrative. Not that there was any doubt in my mind what generally was going to transpire. The mystical element is anchored in the selkie legend. The acerbic wit continues, hurrah!

The storyline is that an assortment of people go to an inn at the edge of the world to avoid C
...more
Wendy Howard
The 'edge of the world' in this case is a remote Hebridean island, off the coast of Scotland. Wanting to avoid Christmas and all its trappings, five people gather at the inn on this island - the proprietor also wanting to avoid the festive season, and drum up some sorely needed trade - to spend the weekend trying to forget what the rest of the country is up to, each for their own reasons.

They don't know each other before they arrive, and since there's not much else to do on the island except tak
...more
Koit
Feb 16, 2014 Koit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting book to say the least. Some of what is written goes very strongly against me, and I found the conclusion very random, but overall I would suggest it to some people.
Dan Mead
Jan 09, 2013 Dan Mead rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Bought this as it was recommended in Waterstones and had a Christmas theme and I thought it would get me in the spirit.

I have only read one other book written by a woman (The Shipping News) not consciously. It was brought to my attention while watching the Tv book club and I checked my shelf to find an absolute collection of male writers. I am now on a quest to further my reading of female literature.

Unfortunately I found this to the detriment of women who write maybe not due to a fault in this
...more
Donna
Dec 21, 2013 Donna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. Loved the premise of people escaping from "Christmas". It started a bit slow, but soon i found that I couldn't put it down. Still not so sure what to make of Mabel and the ending. Definitely warrants a re-read or two. Much to think about in this short beautifully written book. Loved this bit: "to cook well and with imagination you have to be in a cheerful and contented frame of mind, and thus inclined to be generous." I think this novel is out of print, but is one I w ...more
Mandy
Apr 28, 2012 Mandy rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
I liked this little tale very much. It is about the owner of a pub/guest house in an island, probably off Scotland, who in an effort to drum up trade advertises his place as the perfect place to spend Chrismas if you want to escape Christmas. 5 people turn up, one of whom has a grudge against another guest, and is quite, quite mad.

There are also ghosts.

Something weird happened in a dramatic scent towards the end of the book where we seemed to loose a chunk of description, but odd as that was,
...more
Maeve Kelly
Nice book for over Christmas
Bonnie
Jan 30, 2012 Bonnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 20e, uk
Une auberge au bout du monde (c'est à dire sur une île au large de l’Écosse), une annonce passée dans les journaux,cinq personnes plus ou moins solitaires, avec chacun leurs raisons, qui choisissent de passer Noël là-bas mais sans le fêter. Attirée d'abord par le titre ( c'est ça d'aller à la bibliothèque entre Noël et la St Sylvestre ^^),
j'ai beaucoup aimé ce roman, et je m'étonne un peu du manque de notoriété de son auteure.
Janey
May 24, 2015 Janey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Started promisingly...got irritating.
Jo Ann Hall
Apr 08, 2013 Jo Ann Hall rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this so much, I read it twice, back-to-back. The story is so imaginative and tightly woven, you forget you're reading a novel. It's rather fun to go back and recognize the clues Ellis left along the way. Equal parts mystery, ghost story, and philosophy of "everyman," this book is now among my all-time favorites.
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Alice Thomas Ellis was short-listed for the Booker prize for The 27th Kingdom. She is the author of A Welsh Childhood (autobiography), Fairy Tales and several other novels including The Summerhouse Trilogy, made into a movie starring Jeanne Moreau and Joan Plowright.
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“. . to cook well and with imagination you have to be in a cheerful and contented frame of mind, and thus inclined to be generous.” 4 likes
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