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God's Own Country

3.46  ·  Rating Details ·  955 Ratings  ·  140 Reviews

Granta Best Young British Novelist

In one of the most celebrated debut novels of recent years, Ross Raisin tells the story of solitary young farmer, Sam Marsdyke, and his extraordinary battle with the world.

Expelled from school and cut off from the town, mistrusted by his parents and avoided by city incomers, Marsdyke is a loner until he meets rebellious new neighbour Jo
Hardcover, 210 pages
Published by Viking Books (first published 2008)
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Sometimes, when I read a really good book, the subsequent review practically writes itself. I normally start the first draft of a review when I'm halfway through a book; occasionally even earlier. If I absolutely LOVED the book, you'd think this would be easier. Yet it's been days since I finished God's Own Country and I haven't yet written a word about it. Why the delay? In part, it could be because I just know it's going to be difficult to do this book justice. My initial response upon finishi ...more
I first saw this book advertised in a magazine afew months ago, but only caught a glimpse of the cover with neither the author nor title - and was trying to find it since, as that cover image stuck in my head. I had no idea what the book was about, but I was looking for it - and if not for Goodreads I'd probably never have found it. Now tell me that covers don't sell books!

The book in question was God's Own Country, debut of the English writer Ross Raisin, which has been nominated for several pr
Debbie Reschke Schug
I appreciated what the author was trying to do here, but I didn't necessarily enjoy reading this book. To be fair, I'm not sure how much my entertainment level should affect the amount of stars, but I felt a certain level of ambivalence while reading the story...and I kinda detected that the author either had or struggled with that ambivalence while writing this.
It's saying something that I liked reading the author’s interview and an additional essay in the back of the book more than the actual
Paula Connelly
May 28, 2013 Paula Connelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The blurb on the cover of this book is spot on! It is both amusing and at the same time dark and disturbing.

There's no doubt about it, the writing is superbly done. How else could I have found such a disturbed individual as the main character so likeable? For the largest part of the book I found myself sympathising with his viewpoint and, even as it became clear there was something more sinister going on, I still felt that it wasn't all entirely his fault.

While reading I felt that a subtext to
Jul 22, 2016 Lisa rated it really liked it
Shelves: nature-v-nurture
This is the story of Sam Marsdyke who is a 19 year old farmer in the Yorkshire countryside.
He has come to despise the 'towns' and having been expelled from school is resigned to his life on the farm with his mum and dad and the sheep.
This is an intimate look at the life Sam endures and what he desires from inside his small world.
It is an excellent character study which is very different from anything I've read before.
I got a real sense of the beautiful countryside up against the starkness and
Mar 08, 2011 Alan rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels, read-in-2009
started this on the train this morning and loving it already. Sharp, funny writing. Takes the piss out of ramblers (Gods Own Country being Yorkshire of course): 'Daft sods in pink and green hats' - I laugh the laugh of recognition - that's me.

...enjoyed this, the charm of the (unreliable, slighty bonkers) young narrator wins you over immediately. Bit like the 'Butcher Boy' you're drawn in by his jokey style, his use of dialect, his love of animals and nature. All the animals talk, sheep, dogs, w
On the back cover of "God's own country", amongst the usual praise for a "wonderfully unique" debut novel I read "very funny and very disturbing". To be honest, I never really laughed once but agree that it is a deeply disturbing book that you just can't put down.

All through the read I couldn't shut off this feeling of dread of what the budding association of "lankenstein" aka "bogeyman" aka Sam Marsdyke and the newly moved "towns'" daughter will end in. As he is the hero of the novel one wants
Aug 29, 2010 janet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 22, 2009 Rob rated it really liked it
This is a striking first novel that combines a racy story line (which one isn’t quite sure is all in the main protagonist’s head) with some wonderful Yorkshire phrases (which one cannot be entirely sure are utter fiction or not) and some beautifully descriptions of the North Yorkshire moors and farming life in general.

That seemingly least offensive breed of people, ramblers, come in for some enjoyably sharp criticism and the unwelcome influx of the middle classes into a rural community, complete
Mar 14, 2009 Cheryl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed this very much - how cleverly I was drawn in from the very start into empathising with the main character, who despite being seemingly undeservedly marginalised in a close knit society, yet demanded my sympathies because of his humour and love of his natural surroundings. It was a very long way into the book before I stopped forgiving him misdemeanours and could stand back and realise the sinister path the author had led me on in backing him as the underdog.
I was also swallowed up by th
Apr 05, 2012 Anne rated it liked it
Also called Out Backwards. Another book like Waterline that makes the line between someone who functions well in society and someone who's behavior is considered anti-social, dangerous or aggressive seem very thin. One can take the same clues from the environment that most of us agree to interpret in a similar way and tweak them a bit, reinterpret them, and come up with an entirely different view of the world. One realizes that behavior that might get someone jail time might not stem from intent ...more
Jul 12, 2016 Carola rated it really liked it
I had the audible version and have to say the narrator was quite brilliant and accounted for at least a star. It is a surreal journey in Sam's mind and the way he sees and wittily "talk" to his Moors. The feeling I had from this was a constant hanging between endearing and disturbing. But I could definitively relate to the Tomatoes!
Sep 28, 2013 Ape rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Debbie Reschke Schug
***UPDATE: I upped the number of stars I originally gave to this because, as it turns out, I've been thinking a lot about this book. And any book that I reflect on a week after finishing it deserves another star.
Original review:
I appreciated what the author was trying to do here, but I didn't necessarily enjoy reading this book. To be fair, I'm not sure how much my entertainment level should affect the amount of stars, but I felt a certain level of ambivalence while reading the story...and I ki
Sep 25, 2012 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sam Marsdyke is an outsider. An adolescent working on his parent's farm following expulsion from school due to a rape allegation, Sam struggles to interact and integrate into the community. Living largely in isolation, Sam lavished his attention on the sheep and puppies on the farm. That is, until a new family move in next door and Sam develops an obsession with the daughter - "the girl" as she is referred to. Their initial awkward friendship quickly escalates into something very dark and altoge ...more
Feb 26, 2015 Misty rated it liked it
"God's Country" or "Out Backward" is unlike any other novel I've ever read. The story is told through the eyes and mind of Sam Marsdyke, a troubled youth who, while possibly well intentioned, finds himself losing grip with reality and embracing his darker thoughts.

The draw for me was how I never felt Sam was dangerous until he had clearly crossed the line. I cared about him and hoped his relationship with the girl from down the hill would provide balance in his life. I always had this perception
Mar 16, 2013 Margaret added it
Shelves: 2013
My book has the American title, Out Backward (which I like better) and the cover art is different, green with a picture of some wild mushrooms. I don't remember where I got this book but it's an autographed copy.

This book had the largest amount of British slang I have ever encountered which I found rather fascinating, sometimes puzzling and ultimately made for slow-going reading-wise in some respects. Most of the time I can figure it out from the context but I did occasionally have to look-up a
Apr 05, 2013 Tom rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What is it about some debut novels from British men and disturbed unreliable narrators? There may be a thesis in there somewhere, if someone could be bothered to think it through! This book reminds me of a bunch of others (The Collector, The Wasp Factory and The Butcher Boy, although the latter isn’t a debut) but manages not to be derivative. The narrator is extremely engaging and I loved the evocation of the North Yorkshire countryside having visited there often. Some of the social commentary f ...more
Annie Harrison
Apr 01, 2013 Annie Harrison rated it really liked it
God's Own Country is an extraordinary tale of delusion. Like the landscape and the characters it portrays, the narrative is menacing and uncomfortable. Ross Raisin writes with a unique style, blending plot, description, dialogue and thoughts in a melange of rambling copy. Mutterings of humour are expressed through the thick Yorkshire dialect of Sam Marsdyke's parochial world.

The reader's relationship with the main protagonist changes as the story progresses, and it becomes a gothic account of a
Apr 16, 2013 Matthew rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this, it's kind of like channeling Clockwork Orange's Alex into a small farm on the Yorkshire moors. It manages to walk the tightrope of being very funny, very sinister but also very clever all at the same time. The way Sam picks up on small bits of Josephine's conversation and then re-iterates them to himself is both very smart and very believable. It's not very often you pick up a book that can make you laugh out loud either. If it perhaps isn't as gripping when events start t ...more
Dec 23, 2011 Tuck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
reminded, plot-wise of naill griffiths "sheepshagger", in that we have here a psychopathic yorkshire "farmboy", but most of the comparisons stop there. Ianto in sheepshagger gets into meth, coke, x, booze, and rather enjoys stomping boyscouts from london into mud holes so that the only thing left of them is their socks, whereas Sam is, what, much more even-headed, hahahahaha, for a psycho. i look forward to raisin's new book. btw, called "out backward" in usa and "god's own country" in uk. that ...more
Feb 16, 2012 Alic rated it really liked it
I think this is a future classic. It reminded me at times of Catcher in the Rye. Well written and well observed. Ross Raisin taught me for 5 days on an Arvon writing course. He was charming and incredibly constructive. Ross Raisin Ross Raisin
3.5 stars really. I found the dialect hard going, but I appreciated how it helped to evoke the setting. Sam was an interesting character - and his descriptions of the Moors were almost surreally accurate - but I just didn't get excited by the book as a whole. Or, perhaps more accurately, as excited by it as I had expected to be.
Mar 06, 2014 Bettie☯ rated it liked it
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Spotted on Blair's update; wanted a looksee
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sandeep Ellawala
Sep 19, 2016 Sandeep Ellawala rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book with a very dark undertone, and I felt its sinister touch all over me. Recently I have been reading books I had picked randomly from the British Council Library as an exercise to seek experiences. I wanted those experiences to be as unique as embarking on an adventure of emotions and thoughts. Reading books from the pop culture would mostly get me entangled on a story that everyone wishes to experience so that they can find a common ground for discussion, than finding difference f ...more
Jun 26, 2012 Marie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, it has been a good while since I've encountered an absolutely top-rate read so I am delighted to say that I have no hesitation in awarding God's Own Country a 5 star review.

God's Own Country is a tale about Sam Marsdyke, a 19-year-old farmer's son living in the North Yorkshire Moors. Expelled from school under controversial circumstances and ostracised by his peers, Sam lives a lonely life with only the land and his animals for company. When the neighbouring farmer dies and his land is bou
Nov 02, 2008 Betty rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes to delve into the whys and wherefores of life and the mind of the unusual
A strange and unusual book, written in the broad Yorkshire dialect, easy enough to pick up as you go along. The author has certainly done his research. A young boy is accused of something he didn’t actually do and is kicked out of school. He must work at the home farm and forget about education. When we come into his story he is about 19 years old. Downtrodden and a town misfit, he lives an eventful life within his own mind. The story is sometimes humorous, often deceptive, and somewhat depressi ...more
Jun 12, 2011 martin rated it really liked it
For someone whose childhood was spent on an English sheep farm, this book brought back lots of memories. OK, the North Yorks Moors are the other end of England but the rituals of sheep birth, life and death are the same. The detail is very accurate which shows either personal experience or excellent research.

Sam is a very likeable character for all his misanthropic outlook on life. He adores his sheepdog Sal and has a deep but unspoken love affair for the Moors, threatened in his eyes by the 't
Jan 10, 2017 Liz rated it really liked it
This novella is like reading Burgess' A Clockwork Orange while getting lost in the Yorkshire moors. It is a deeply unsettling little gem of a book.
May 09, 2014 Andrew rated it really liked it
This book is set in the farms and villages of a North Yorkshire moor in which the scenery plays a significant role. Sam Marsdyke is a young farmer who left school under a cloud having apparently sexually assaulted a fellow student. He is awkward, lanky (refers to himself as Lankenstein) and his only friend is his sheepdog and his internal monologue. Into this picture comes a 15 year old girl who is part of a townie family who has moved into the neighbouring farm from London as part of the change ...more
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