Whisky Galore
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Whisky Galore

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  382 ratings  ·  42 reviews
It's 1943 and the war has brought rationing to the Hebridean islands of Great and Little Todday. When food is in short supply, it is bad enough, but when the whisky runs out, it looks like the end of the world.

Morale is at rock bottom. George Campbell needs a wee dram to give him the courage to stand up to his mother and marry Catriona. The priest, the doctor and, of cours...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published November 4th 2004 by Vintage (first published 1947)
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Lance Greenfield
This book is very amusing, and it is based upon a true story. It gives a great insight into why the simple lives of Highlanders and Islanders are to be so admired and envied.

The SS Cabinet Minister runs aground on the rocks of one of the Hebridean islands. The locals, naturally, take advantage of the availability of the ship's cargo: whiskey. The authorities have other ideas about what should happen to this precious cargo.

The conflict which ensues, and some of the cunning methods that the locals...more
Simon
Though this started out quite slowly, the more I read the more I enjoyed it. Whisky Galore belongs to that genre of writing about the country wherein officious city-types are constantly being wrong-footed by the wily locals, so there are plenty of laughs at the expense of the uptight authority figures. There are also some funny satirical jabs at military incompetence, puritan hypocrisy, and overbearing parents. I hear the 1949 movie version is great, so I'm looking forward to checking that out t...more
Gerry
Sergeant-Major Alfred Ernest Odd returns to the Hebridean islands of Great and Little Todday in wartime and finds them in the middle of rationing with food supplies very low. Not only are food supplies low but whisky is almost non-existent and the islanders are not happy with the situation.

In addition the home guard are under suspicion as they are deemed to be not doing their jobs properly and the locals think that Odd has come to spy upon them and report back to headquarters.

There are a variety...more
Judith Lewis
A feelgood, rather quaint book, very much of its period [late 1940s]. Based on the true shipwreck of the SS Politician off the coast of the Hebridean island of Eriskay, and the remarkable disappearance of its cargo of prime whisky. I suspect there is a good deal of truth in the story, whatever the author's disclaimer! Mackenzie knew the Outer Hebrides well, so I guess the book is likely to have a degree of truth in the social history it represents; it is certainly accurate in its depiction of th...more
Katy Noyes
A bit disappointed really.

I loved the Ealing film as a child, and maybe I'm misremembering, but it was really funny.

The book seems to have the potential to be amusing, and sometimes manages this. On two little Scottish islands in World War Two (one Catholic, one protestant) whisky is running out. Providentially, a supply ship runs aground nearby containing thousands of cases of the said product. Before long, almost everyone is 'salvaging', and a lot happier. Only a few killjoys are trying to st...more
James Oden
I have start off by saying that I'm a singer in a Celtic band and I don't just sing about whiskey, but I love the stuff. Reading this book for me was like finding myself surrounded by a room full of kindred spirits. There were so many things to love about this book, but really at its heart was the culture of Gaelic speaking Scotland. It is culture where nothing is ever too serious, yet the passion for life is the poetry of the air they breathe. Music, dancing, and just good Craic with friends is...more
Catherine
The picture on the cover and my vague memories of the film are of people desperately trying to hide whisky from the excise men, but that is merely one day's events in a very good book. Much of it explores the relationships between islanders when they are in the trying times of an alcohol drought and the effect of a sudden, unexpected, but not entirely legal solution.

I've been told many times that one way to make a novel is to get a set of characters, put them in a challenging situation and see...more
Kingfan30
The cover of this book was interesting, I was not sure if I needed to put on some 3D glasses or if I needed a drink of Whisky to see it properly!

There were a lot of characters on this story which made it difficult to follow at times. Also it was written in the dialect of the area which took a bit of getting used too. The story on the whole was quite entertaining and I was pleased when George eventually stood up to his mum.
Mel
Ahhhh, you can't argue with the comic genius of Compton MacKenzie!! Although loosely based a true story, MacKenzie takes the story and expands it into classic comedy with instantly recognisable style. A thoroughly enjoyable read by a man passionate about the land he writes of, perfect to while away a spare few hours. No wonder it was picked up by Eeling films!
Marie-Anne
Nice enough, but it's no Para Handy.
Stephen Taylor
Seventy years has not dulled the wit and good-humoured satire of Mackenzie's book. There's much to enjoy in the main plot of the self-reliant inhabitants of the islands running rings round authority, but also some sensitively written descriptions of the natural environment that add to the texture of the narrative. The phonetic rendition of the accent works well, and I stopped noticing it after a few pages. The Gaelic phrases are less easy to read over, and the fact that many of the characters ha...more
Melissa
A delightful book! A charming, humorous view of a pair of remote islands in the Scottish Hebrides and the clash of cultures when the English Home Guard tries to manage the locals during WWII. And the whiskey....
The edition I read had a neat little Gaelic index in the back, arranged by chapter, like footnotes. I didn't discover this until I was more than halfway through the book. It's a nice feature. I find that unknown foreign words in a text really break the rhythm of my reading, especially if...more
Sho
Jun 23, 2011 Sho rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: humour
From the author of Monarch of the Glen, this is a cracking tale of what happened during the bleak days of the war when the Outer Hebridies had nearly no whisky and a tanker full of the stuff was wrecked within distance to "salvage" it.

It paints a great picture of the spartan life they had up there back then - I found some of the dialogue a little difficult due to being written in dialect. But it was fab.

All the better for being based on a true story.
Sandy
You can tell this is an old tale! The narrating is quite innocent in the telling. Not much in the way of sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll, just whisky. The tale does rotate around the wedding arrangements (or not as mother would like) of 2 residents of the village. Of course the grounding of the ship containing many cases of whisky bound for America makes for a better reason for a celebration - it still must be kept a secret!
Jean
I am falling in love with Scotland through my readings, and this book has certainly added to my love for the Highlanders. It is based on a true shipwreck of the same time (1940's and WWII) off of the Hebrides. I love the "laugh with ourselves" humor of the Scot and the simple and pure lifestyle of the Gaelic people. Will definitely read more of Mackenzie's books.
Laura
Cute story about the shenanigans that ensue when the whisky (and, for that matter, beer) supply ran out on the island due to wartime rationing. Certainly a crisis in Highland (or perhaps better island) Scotland. The fun begins when a ship, with 15,000 cases of whisky onboard, runs aground. Definitely a product of its time, but also an enjoyable read.
Susan McDuffie
It took me awhile to finish this book; I started it then neglected it for some months. I guess I just had to be in the right mood. But I loved it, feeding into my Scottish Island fantasies as it did. I love the dialogue and the sense of the islands. Did Compton Mackenzie write other Scottish novels, does anyone know?
Tom
Enjoyable little comedy about Scotland and Whisky. It's a bit slow to get going and some of the characters stories aren't revisited which I think was a shame but a good story none the less. Grab yourself a dram of 'minnie' while you read this, it'll make it that much more enjoyable as you drink alongside the characters.
Katrina
This is continuing the story which starts in his book Keep the Home Guard Turning. World War II is in full Swing and the inhabitants of the two Todday islands are finding the lack of whisky hard to bear. All the whisky which is being produced is being sent to America to help pay for the war. Another amusing romp.
Biggs
A simple story that is somewhat slow to build but includes some enjoyable moments. I bought this book because I was in Scotland and read the majority on the train back to Oxford. Not one of my favorites, but not wasted time.
Kitty
It was not a gripping tale, and the frequent phrases in Gaelic only served to confuse rather than add character. It think it would make an excellent Sunday night BBC comedy-drama (rather like Mackenzie's Monarch of the Glen).
Karen
Dull. It perhaps got more entertaining when the whisky arrived but I was nearly halfway through and it hadn't made an appearance, so I decided life was too short and my bookshelf too packed to waste any more time.
Gillian
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jo
Written just after the Second World War, this is the tale of two Scottish islands and the characters who live upon them. It wasn't as amusing as I expected but did amble along pleasantly enough.
Erik
A bit outdated but gives a pictoresque description of life on a scottish island in the 40's. The outdatedness adds to the story in my opinion. Fun to read when you are actually in the region.
John
Another DNF, I found the book very boring. Actually I picked it up for my sister because the movie made from this book, "Tight Little Island", is one of he favorite movies.
Martine Peacock
I give up! Far too slow-paced (but then this book was written way back when) and such a slow read, with too 'heavy' words, that I missed the humour when it came.
Laura
A whisky-laden ship runs aground off the coast of the Outer Hebrides during the Second World War. Can the islanders keep it a secret from Customs?

Mairi
This was a very amusing story, more so when you've lived in the Hebrides and know the way of life and history. I'd highly recommend it!
Neil Wilson
Something of a classic - known more for the Film, yet that is only an adaptation of the novel. Entertaining and light-hearted.
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Compton Mackenzie was born into a theatrical family. His father, Edward Compton, was an actor and theatre company manager; his sister, Fay Compton, starred in many of James M. Barrie's plays, including Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up. He was educated at St Paul's School and Magdalen College, Oxford where he obtained a degree in Modern History.

Mackenzie was married three times and aside...more
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