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3.40  ·  Rating Details  ·  525 Ratings  ·  97 Reviews
Following her wonderful debut, The Still Point, Sackville returns with a strangely beautiful short novel about love and sex and obsession. A literature professor marries his prize student, a woman forty years his junior, and at her request he takes her to the sea for their honeymoon. He is embarked on his life’s work, a book about enchantment-narratives in literature, most ...more
Hardcover, 253 pages
Published April 2nd 2013 by Counterpoint
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Man Booker Prize Eligible 2013
25th out of 176 books — 316 voters
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Community Reviews

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Maybe I was wrong after all, with Night Film. Perhaps it really is the way that we are taught to dream as children, in what language, in what realm. Perhaps it started with my parents reading to me, every night, they said, before I went to bed since before I can remember, words I could not have understood. Perhaps it was only Walt Disney’s imprint on me, the endless rounds of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty I watched, I am told, when I was two and three years old. Maybe they were scaffolded by th ...more
Orkney is a short, exceptionally intense narrative charting the honeymoon of a strange, mismatched couple. Richard, the narrator, is a sixty-year-old English professor who is nearing retirement and working on a book which is to be the crowning glory of his career: a study of myths and legends about enchantment, and more specifically, women who enchant men. His new wife - a woman who, it soon becomes clear, he barely knows - is thirty-nine years younger than him, a former student, an ethereal gir ...more
Apr 16, 2013 Jane rated it it was amazing
This is lovely: a beautifully painted story of love, obsession and loss, set on a remote northern Scottish isle, rising and falling like the tide …

Orkney“She’s staring out to sea now. My young wife. There she stands on the barren beach, all wrapped up in her long green coat, among the scuttle and clutter of pebbles and crabs. She stares out as the water nears her feet and draws back, and when that soft and insistent suck of the tide gets close enough to slurp at her toes she shuffles herself up
2.5 A book this exquisitely written should not have left me unsatisfied, frustrated even, in the end. I genuinely adored the stunning descriptions of Orkney's solitude and violent seas and stormy skies. I was intrigued by the expert build-up to a dark undercurrent of a sinister fairy-tale waiting to happen. Not to mention that lovely age gap.

Unfortunately the author was so infatuated with her own prose of her heroine's peculiarities and the sea's harsh beauty, that she drowned in lush, but unde
Jun 14, 2013 Michelle rated it liked it
The language is beautiful, but the plot is lacking. And, though the language is vivid, it's evoking the same feelings and images over the entire book.This does envelop the reader in the island and the narrator's mind, but it also seems limiting. The poetry wasn't enough to overcome the predictability of the plot--most of the book is the older male narrator staring out the window at his youthful bride, who in turn stares into the sea. The characters are mysteries, especially the wife, which sadde ...more
Perhaps appropriately for a book so wound up in literature and story telling, all the while I was reading I was reminded of other books. So if you like this (and I loved it, for the atmosphere and slowly growing sense of menace and all the playful listings of colours), you might like any of these books...
Possession - firstly the preoccupation with mythic Victorian literature that runs through both books, and also the academic romance
Lolita - Orkney is perhaps Lolita if Humbert had liked just sli
Jul 15, 2013 Nicholas rated it it was ok
I was given Orkney when I returned from a trip to the Orkney Islands. Indeed, it appears from the Acknowledgments that Sackville and I actually visited one of the same outlying northerly islands, Westray (which is truly stunning). There are some moments of beautiful description in this novel, both of the landscape and the Orcadians who make their home in the islands. But that's about all there is. The novel is sort of a meditation on love and longing and a bunch of other things that bored me to ...more
Apr 27, 2013 Claire rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Orkney" has left me reeling. It was a fascinating book, holding my attention from start to finish. Richard, an aging Professor in Literature, has married his most talented student - an enigmatic young woman who is not once named, as Richard is deeply possessive of her. She is referred to as "my young wife", and he waxes lyrical about her charms. They travel to Orkney for their Honeymoon, a whim of hers that may concern her missing father, the island and its ever shifting weather providing the p ...more
Rebecca Foster
Orkney was partially written during a stay on Westray, and anyone who has visited the outlying Orkney Islands will certainly recognize that windy seaside bleakness. Still, there is something universal about the author’s evocation of the silences and mysteries in marriage. In this respect Orkney has many precursors, from Gone Girl and The Beginner’s Goodbye to On Chesil Beach, all tales of newlyweds who do not quite seem suited to each other.

The reader need not have made the pilgrimage to Westr
Sep 16, 2014 Rowenah rated it liked it
There's no doubt this book is beautifully written but the storyline of two unlikeable guffs on their honeymoon on a remote Orcadian island just bored me to tears. There is something so creepy and unsettling about a 40 year age gap for a start, I then got so fed up of being force fed imagery and alliteration of the sea. It dragged in for page after page. And lastly I am just sick of reading about islanders being portrayed as suspicious grotesque old goats swaddled in bundles of cloth and mutterin ...more
May 26, 2014 Wanda rated it liked it
Recommended to Wanda by: Bettie
Shelves: 2014
7 MAY 2014 -- a gift from Dear Bettie. Received today. Lovely cover. Thank you very much!

26 MAY 2014 -- easily readable in one sitting. Because we are told the story from Richard's point of view and are not told much is said by the unnamed "young wife," I found the narrator to be unreliable. I found Richard to be abusive, nasty and downright ugly (in his rotten treatment of the young woman). The question became one of "did he/or didn't he?" to me. I believe the "young wife" escaped via the sea
Ilyhana Kennedy
Mar 18, 2014 Ilyhana Kennedy rated it liked it
When I reached page 100, I felt the slow creep of boredom settling in, boredom and irritation, also a sense of suffocation in attempting to find a story amidst the writer's obsession with obsession written in such elegant text.
I began to feel that the protagonist's obsession with his love was merely an instrument upon which to exhibit an ability to carefully construct towers of gridlocked sentences.
I longed for some guts and real feeling. And I longed for something to happen.
Finally the language
Apr 27, 2013 Udita rated it it was amazing
If you know me, you know my love for all things unreal. This is a very unreal book... and unlike Murakami, Marquez, Esquivel; I don't have to read it in translation, that pleases me. I have just been to the Highlands a couple of weeks ago, and the images of Orkney are raw and sharp-edged, they are too vivid in my head, almost causing pain. The most unusual about the style of writing in the book is the fact that the author's words (the book is in first person narrative, so in this case, the profe ...more
Norman Thompson
Mar 24, 2015 Norman Thompson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an absolutely beautifully written book. The language is poetic and lyrical, it evokes the setting of the island, the sea and the internal landscape of the protagonist wonderfully. I stopped to admire the writing many times.
Those reviews that say it's missing plot are similar to reviewing a Monet as "a bit blurry".
Feb 09, 2013 Dawn rated it really liked it
Beautiful evocative writing, anyone who has ever been to Orkney will recognise the beauty, colours and wildness of the islands.
Dec 21, 2015 Val rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An English professor specialising in transformation myths marries one of his former students and they go on honeymoon to an island in the Orkney archipelago. The destination is her choice and she is fascinated by the sea. It is not a healthy fascination, she has nightmares about drowning and a tendency to put herself at risk. She often talks about her missing father, who may have drowned and may have come from the island.
The professor is obsessed with his wife and we hear the story purely from h
Dec 04, 2013 Silvia rated it it was ok
I’m not really sure of what to make of this book, except that I found it quite disappointing. Orkney is a novel about love, obsession and the fine line between the two, and it’s more about what’s said between the line than the story itself. A sixty-something academic, Richard, has just married one of his young and bright students, a woman with silver hair around whom the whole story revolves but who’s never named. They are on one of the Orkney islands for their honeymoon, a location picked by th ...more
Jul 12, 2014 Laura rated it liked it
Flashes of superb writing. However, even though I love style over plot, this went a bit too far even for me-very, very little actually happens apart from the extremely obvious ***spoiler alert*** disappearance of the 'young wife' at the end. All of the folklore and mythology that Richard obsesses over-men bewitched and then abandoned by beautiful, unearthly women, sea men who return for their own, yadder yadder-could only end one way. I found it a bit tiresome towards the end and threw myself in ...more
Moira McPartlin
I can't understand why more people haven't discovered this book. It is a strange tale set on a small island in the Orkney Isles. A sixty year old professor and his young bride honeymoon in an old cottage on the edge of the sea. He cant believe he has found love at last, but he cant quite snag his strange young wife, who keeps her secrets close. The prose lilts with the lapping of each seascape described and there is an inevitability about the story that begins on page one and carries throughout. ...more
Jul 20, 2013 Helen rated it liked it
I think what annoys me about most literature today (although not all -- Kate Atkinson's Life After Life is one of the only good books I've read that has been published recently) is that they are predictable. This story line in ORKNEY is unique -- different than what has been done before -- but predictable. And depressing, like all stories written today. The writing was mostly very beautiful. And the story line was a bit impressive, but it irritated me so much toward the end that I can't give the ...more
Jul 14, 2014 Becky rated it it was amazing
I have read this book so many times, and each time I find something new. It is truly absorbing.

The story is set on a bleak and barely inhabited island in Orkney, and the shapes and colours of htat landscape, as well as it tales and myths, provide the setting for the characters, as well as shaping their actions. In some ways the story could be set anywhere, but the grey and deep blue fo the sea, and the vastness of the sky, give an other-worldliness to everything that happens.

Richard, the narrato
Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize
Amy Sackville is a novelist worth waiting for. Her debut novel, The Still Point (Portobello Books, 2010) was a book that changed my life. Pressing it on everyone in the interim, I have waited impatiently for her next offering.

Orkney is one of the most fascinating novels I have ever read, by one of Britian’s strongest new novelists. Sackville is fascinated by the effect of geography on emotion. Orkney tells the story of Richard, a 60-year old academic pursuing an obsession with mythical women tha
Apr 21, 2014 Alison rated it liked it
I've read Amy Sackville's first novel The Still Point and enjoyed it greatly. Probably more than this one (Sorry, but it seemed a little self-indulgent) but that's not to say I didn't enjoy this. I enjoyed it's otherworldliness; the narrator's gradual unravelling (enjoyed is wrong, I felt so sorry for him), and the writer's trust that she didn't need to tie it all up with a bow at the end. I don't think I would ever thrust this book into the hands of another with a 'you must read this', because ...more
Belinda G
Aug 02, 2015 Belinda G rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-own-this, 2015
I think this book will haunt me for a long time.

Wow. Just wow.

This novel grabbed me by the throat in the first few pages, which is a really uncommon thing to happen, especially with these kinds of "high literary" type novels. I was expecting it to be good, since Kirsty at The Literary Sisters had told me I needed to read it, so my expectations were high. This book absolutely met them.

I have always loved Scotland, and in particular have been bewitched by the highlands and islands. Travelling the
Jun 09, 2013 Krysia rated it really liked it
Very poetic.
I picture Sarah Polley or a Sarah Polley type as the heroine in a movie adaptation.
Jul 28, 2015 Hugh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-lit
An interesting and poetic tale laced with Orcadian folklore.
I didn't know what to expect when I purchased Orkney and I liked that. The synopsis left me with a lot of questions and deep desire to get to know these newlyweds and the mystery surrounding their courtship and the Young Wife's past.

We are immediately thrown into their arrival on Orkney where The Professor is describing his Young Wife's instant pull towards the ocean. They are an oddly matched couple, he 39 years her senior, and looked at suspiciously by the natives. But, in The Professor's desc
Feb 17, 2014 Louise rated it it was amazing
This book is beautifully written, and reads like a dark, grown-up fairy tale, waiting to pull you under the cold sea around the windswept Orkney island where it is set. It starts off quite slowly which might not suit some people, with the narrator - the older professor - musing on the circumstances which have led to his recent marriage to his former pupil, which have in turn led to this honeymoon of the small island in the Orkneys where this story is set.

The initial flashbacks and the start of t
Sep 05, 2013 Felix rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 22, 2013 Karen rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle
Several things made this a must-read: the title (I spent two wonderful, music-filled summer holidays in Orkney as a student); the plot (I will admit a soft spot for students who have a soft spot for their ageing teacher, ahem...); and Blair's intriguing review, with that teaser of a spoiler. When it became 99p on Kindle, it was a no-brainer.

And I was heading towards the same interpretation as Blair, especially after that horrible (view spoiler)
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Amy Sackville was born in 1981. She studied English and Theatre Studies at Leeds, and went on to an MPhil in English at Exeter College, Oxford, where she specialised in Modernism. After two years working for an illustrated books publisher, she chose to focus on writing fiction and in 2008, she completed the MA in Creative & Life Writing at Goldsmiths. She has had short stories published in ant ...more
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