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Waterline

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  161 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Mick Little used to be a shipbuilder on the Glasgow yards. But as they closed one after another down the river, the search for work took him and his beloved wife Cathy to Australia, and back again, struggling for a living, longing for home. Thirty years later the yards are nearly all gone and Cathy is dead. And now Mick will have to find a new way to live: to get away, sta ...more
Paperback, 262 pages
Published 2012 by Penguin Books (first published 2011)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 450)
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Blair
Ross Raisin wrote one of my favourite books of last year, and indeed of all time, God's Own Country, so I'd had his second novel Waterline pegged as a must-read since its release. Although I found it equally impossible to put down - reading the book from cover to cover in one sitting - Waterline is a very different animal to Raisin's debut. Where God's Own Country was bleak, darkly funny and thrilling, Waterline is bleak, bleak, bleak. That isn't to say it's bad: it is an incredibly powerful and ...more
Amy
“And see if he did put a claim in then the reminders would be there the whole time—for months, years, however long it took—and even that is still ignoring the main thing: why should he get a windfall? Him that brought it into the house and handed her the overalls to wash and here’s two hundred grand, pal, take it, it’s yours—you deserve it.”


After the death of his wife to mesothelioma, Mick has to start his life over, struggling with the guilt from her death attributable to residue from his job i
...more
Alan
got a good review at the weekend from various papers and I really liked his first novel 'God's Own Country'.

I am tempted to give it 5 stars because it ended up a moving account of one man's descent into poverty and homelessness after the shock of his wife's death. He is an ex Clydebank shipbuilder, and feels guilty because he has caused her death through the asbestos he brought home on/in his clothes. Unable to cope with the grief anf guilt and too proud to go on the dole (on the broo) or to cla
...more
Tuck
really great novel about family man who loses his wife, his job, his sons' loves, his respect and selfworth, then goes to the streets and lives rough and nobody knows where he went. his family finally tracks him down and he screws up the courage to meet his sons again, or so we suppose. the ending is a bit ambiguous in only that we know someone died, alone. but then, don;t we all?
brilliant pacing, controlled descriptions of uncontrolled decent into illegitimacy. story itself reminds me of izzo's
...more
Elizabeth
I had to read this for my book club. Please don't ask me to read it again, ever.
I was the only person at the group who did not rave about it's realism, and how it changed their view of guilt (because his asbestos covered clothes gave his wife cancer), depressed (due to being widowed) and homelessness (because he lost the plot of who cared about him and would have supported him in his guilt & grief if only he had TOLD THEM).
The best section was how social workers tried to connect with him, a
...more
Sally Tarbox
"If you start taking down all the things in the place that are fingered with memories, then that's the whole house emptied.",, 3 April 2015

This review is from: Waterline (Kindle Edition)
Utterly believable narrative, following Mick Little, once a Glaswegian shipbuilder, now a driver, in the aftermath of his wife's death. From the fairly normal beginning, where he is hanging up condolences cards and his family are staying with him, Mick's life soon disintegrates entirely. As the relatives go home,
...more
Paul Servini
Had this recommended to me through radio 4's Open Book programme. I loved the sensitivity with which the author paints the portrait of his lead character.
Sarah
Following the descent of a recently widowed man into homelessness, Waterline is my read of the year so far. The grief and terror Raisin depicts as Mick attempts to process the death of his wife and manage his new life on the streets is truly moving. Much like God's Own Country this novel focuses on themes of isolation and withdrawal, or rejection, from society. The narrative switches from Mick's voice to outsiders, such as the reader, who encounter the homeless on a daily basis but keep their ey ...more
Garry
A waterline is the marking on a ship that shows where it sinks to.

Mick was a Glasgow shipbuilder at one time, before the industry went belly-up. It was there that he picked up the asbestos fibres that eventually killed his wife. Memories of her washing clothes coated in fibres, of shaking the fibres out the front door mat, haunt him.

Fueled by guilt and depression, Mick sinks below the waterline.

The funeral, the family, the well wishes... it all gets too much and Mick snaps. He up and leaves fo
...more
Lisa (scarlet21)
Ross Raisin does a fine line in dark and deep. His first novel was shortlisted for nine literary awards and I'd go so far as to say this will follow.

It details the downward spiral of Mick after his wife dies from methothelioma - a condition he blames himself for from his time working on the shipyards, bringing the dust back home. We meet Mick and his family at the funeral; Craig, his taciturn son who says little to his father and feels a lot for his dead mother and Robbie, the younger son who no
...more
Jan
I liked the insightful story despite the labor in reading it & reminded me of Scottish lit of the past, hard to come by in US. I look forward to reading 'Out Backward' for the story and the Yorkshire speech.

What happens to community & individuals when a giant industry closes. We follow an man of little education & less ability to verbalize his feelings. His wife has died, there is miscommunication within family - he struggles & falls. I thought of the many street people I've seen
...more
Leeswammes
This is a beautiful book. The things in it aren’t pleasant, as Mick has a hard time with the death of his wife. He doesn’t want to live in the Glasgow house where they lived together any longer and moves into the shed in the back garden, before making a more radical move out of Glasgow itself.
Mick’s situation is getting more and more desperate. Not only that, mentally he’s not quite there either.
He’s tuned out of society for the most part (at some point he realises that Christmas must have come
...more
Sarah
"So this is grief, well. Sat at the kitchen table with all your joys and your miseries sleeping and snoring about you and you sat there wondering what to do for your breakfast…He closes the eyes and tries picturing her, her face, before that, while she looked healthy still. It’s a blank but, the brain doesn’t want to go there, so he sits with the eyes closed just. A moment of peace. You keep on. What else can you do? You keep on."

Ross Raisin begins his novel “Waterline” in the midst of a gatheri
...more
Mark Walker
This is very good. It can be read as a tribute to the people who work with those whose lives have collapsed. It shows what hard and often unrewarding work it is - trying to help people rebuild their lives. The book reminded me in a number of ways of George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London. An interesting technique that Ross Raisin uses is to write a small bit from the perspective of an anonymous stranger - this person describes a scene which has a little detail in to show that one of th ...more
Emmkay
Knocked me sideways. When the novel opens, Mick, a former shipyard worker, is immersed in the strangeness of having a houseful of relatives after the funeral of his wife, Cathy. We see him interacting with his middle-class in-laws and his grown sons, the one from Australia and the other, more taciturn, living on the other side of town. After they depart, Mick finds himself unable to cope with Cathy's loss but unable to acknowledge his difficulties to others, and he starts what becomes a dramatic ...more
Wwmrsweasleydo
There is a wonderful depth to the characterisation and the descriptions of places in this book. It is beautifully written. I was hardly phased by the scots dialect after the first couple of pages. That gave it rhythm and added to the feeling that Mick was confiding in me personally.

It's a fairly miserable story but it has poetry and there's a hopefulness to be found in every kind act or thought directed Mick's way, whether he's prepared to accept it or not.

Raisin successfully pulls us along on
...more
Just
I read this book to the end reluctantly. Initially I found it very difficult to deal with the Scottish lilt, which after a while just became irritating. Once Beans was introduced the story became a little more interesting but still it just seemed to go on and on about nothing really. I like the idea that the story shows how easy it is to get into Mike's situation and how difficult to get out of it, but I couldn't understand the need to introduce characters to the story that just didn't add anyth ...more
Sally
This is quite a disturbing book to read given the subject matter - homelessness, mental health issues and alcoholism. Although I initially disliked it intensely, I finally sat down and got stuck into it, mainly just to finish it. To my surprise, by the end of the novel, I had a great deal of respect for Mick and the effort he and his family made. I only gave it 2 stars as it is a fairly depressing read and the cadence of the text irritated me. Now to read something cheerful!!
Hannah
3.5 stars
Waterline reads largely like a character study of Mick Little. Mick is a Glaswegian former ship-builder who falls apart when his wife passes away. Unable to complete seemingly simple tasks (going to the shop, speaking to his two sons) he disappears, into the homeless population of London.
I kept waiting for some plot resolution in Waterline (i.e. for Mick to reconnect with his devastated & broody son Craig, etc) but that's just not the kind of book Waterline is. Other 'characters' a
...more
Paul
Glaswegian ex-shipyard worker struggles after the death of his wife, descending into homelessness, guilt and decay.

Cheery summary but realistically imagined and clearly a lot of research has gone into it, which ultimately makes the ending seem a bit trite. Also once or twice the Glasgow patter mis-fired I felt which jarred on my Glaswegian ear, but overall the rhythm and tone of the main character's inner monologue worked well.
Dan
This is the story of Mick Little, whose life deteriorates after the death of his wife. Although he has two sons, he is not close emotionally or physically to either of them. His descent into poverty and homelessness is one of great tragedy and Raisin’s telling of this tale is powerful and emotional and quite significant in the troubled times.
Charlotte
Sad without being maudlin; includes a portrait of a devil-ridden homeless man that somehow manages to be sympathetic, realistic and not condescending. The main character's wife dies and (frequently through internal monologue, Glaswegian dialect)his life falls apart. Did I mention sad?
Brooks
Really enjoyed this book, despite the sadness of Mick - the central character. Very insightful look into the plight of homeless people. Convincing characters and authentic Scottish dialogue - although I'm not Scottish. Will definitely look out for more of his work.
David Maine
Great book. Very moving, in an understated way, and told in a hypnotic Glasgow dialect (in 3rd person that mirrors the cadences of the protagonist's speech). Not the happiest thing in the world but a story that really grips you. Definitely worth a look.
Chris Zupke
Hard to get into at first, but engrossing after about he first 50 pages. Very thought provoking about how one deals with the loss of a spouse, the need of family and how we treat each other in times of crisis.
Bettie☯
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Meghan
Oct 03, 2012 Meghan marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I'm trying to find a copy of this. I started reading it at my aunt's house and was totally immersed in the story. I liked it so much that I wouldn't mind starting over again once I find it.
Jerry Hall
Really enjoyed this book. Gritty and challenging but humanity never lost. A tale for these times of austerity and the government putting the boot into vulnerable people.
James Folan
This is a very very good and moving novel about bereavement and homelessness.
catherine
grim but great writing-descent into homelessness
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