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Whisky Galore (Vintage Classics)

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  835 Ratings  ·  80 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
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Paperback, 304 pages
Published November 4th 2004 by Vintage (first published 1947)
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(showing 1-30)
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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: whisky. 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
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Lynne King
May 28, 2016 Lynne King rated it it was amazing
This was an excellent book about an island. Cecily reminded me of this author in her review on DHL just now in one of his short stories on islands.
Leslie
I waffled between 3 & 4 stars so I guess 3.5*

The reason I waffled so much is that I found the plot hilarious but had some trouble with the Scot dialects (I have trouble reading dialects of all kinds). The interspersed Gaelic didn't give me as much trouble as my edition had a glossary of Gaelic terms with how to pronounce them & their meaning.

Here are some examples of the dialect (these are fairly clear as to their meaning but illustrate the way the dialects were written):

" 'I'm sorry, C
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Gerry
Jun 11, 2013 Gerry rated it liked it
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
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Griselda
Nov 24, 2014 Griselda rated it it was ok
I grew up with the Ealing Comedy black and white film of this book and have always known the story. The book turned out to be a disappointment. Full of redundant detail, the tale moves at snail's pace weighted down by quite pointless episodes and dialogue which would have been better rendered as reported speech. Compton Mackenzie's style tends to the trite in description with an irritatingly self-conscious and pompous diction - who has ever 'doffed' a dressing gown? Worse, he indulges himself to ...more
Simon
Mar 08, 2012 Simon rated it really liked it
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
Laura
Oct 06, 2013 Laura rated it really liked it
Shelves: scotland
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.
Lori
Feb 19, 2017 Lori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ian Brydon
Nov 17, 2014 Ian Brydon rated it did not like it
I see from the inscription on the flyleaf of my copy of this book that I bought it in August 1981. I have a recollection of having read it, and the story is familiar from having seen the film version, but I could not remember anything about the book itself. i read it again as I was going back to the Scottish Highlands, and thought it might be amusing.

Like the over eager knight at the end of 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade', I chose poorly. At the risk of being branded a heretic, this is quit
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Judith Lewis
Feb 19, 2012 Judith Lewis rated it liked it
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
May 23, 2013 Katy Noyes rated it liked it
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
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Simon
Apr 15, 2015 Simon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scotland
I can't give this anything less than five stars. It's been a hoot. I've laughed my way through it and I'm going to miss it all the way through to when the dvd of the 1949 film arrives. It isn't worth 5 stars for the writing, the characters are over-drawn to the extent of approaching caricature, the setting is idealised and, like Dylan Thomas's The Outing, makes a bunch of men getting drunk sound almost fabulous; my experience is that it is rarely thus. But it has magic. It pulls together it's di ...more
James Oden
Mar 10, 2011 James Oden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 30, 2011 Catherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Melanie
Feb 04, 2016 Melanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I cannot believe that I had not read this book before. I loved it. Amazingly it did not feel dated at all. I have read a lot of books from the period and they often feel dated (still good, mind you) but this one feels quite fresh (for the lack of a better word). It's a true classic I know, but I had not expected it to be so funny. I was laughing loads and reading passages to my poor husband. I shall be hunting down now a nice vintage edition for the book shelf. This is a keeper.
Kingfan30
Mar 06, 2013 Kingfan30 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: guardian
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
Jul 23, 2011 Mel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: scottish, humour, classics
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!
The Hancock
Jan 16, 2017 The Hancock rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is fun light reading.
Naomi Slade
Nov 06, 2016 Naomi Slade rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A re-read. Always enjoyable, very much of its time!
Marie-Anne
Sep 06, 2012 Marie-Anne rated it liked it
Nice enough, but it's no Para Handy.
Mel
A fun and funny read, and it's about whisky. I enjoyed it immensely. Good stuff!
Raj
Nov 01, 2015 Raj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humour
It took a while but I really warmed to this story of the Western Isles and how the locals deal with officious mainlanders. The whole whisky thing is almost an aside. There are several threads to the plot: the marriages of Sergeant Odd and George Campbell; the attempts of Captain Waggett to instil discipline into his Home Guard troops; and, of course, the sinking of the S. S. Cabinet Minister carrying 50,000 cases of whisky.

It took a while to settle into the flow of the book. I wasn't really sure
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Susan
It's all well and good to be patriotic, but the citizens of Little Todday and Big Todday, two of the more obscure Hebrides islands, are short of whisky, and even the beer is in short supply. The drought seems to threaten two weddings, as without a dram George Campbell can't muster the nerve to tell his dictatorial mother that he's getting married, and Sergeant Major Odd can't get his father-in-law to be to name a date. When a ship is wrecked off Little Todday in the fog, the locals are delighted ...more
Stephen Taylor
Oct 20, 2013 Stephen Taylor rated it really liked it
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
Paul Burnette
Mar 29, 2015 Paul Burnette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mackenzie's humor delights us! How could you NOT love this book and it's colorful characters, a plot based on a historical event, where all turns out the right way, where odious characters are put on by attractive folks, where the foibles of a egotistical, OCD outsider are revealed over and over for their insensitivity and futility in a comic tour-de-force written so many years ago, but timeless in its humor. Aristophanes, even, would be hugely entertained! Pardon me, but I'm going to go somewhe ...more
Linda
Aug 19, 2016 Linda rated it really liked it
This book was so much fun to read. It was referred to in a couple of other books I read this year. Then I watched a Scottish TV series where it was mentioned. So glad I went to the trouble to track it down. It is based on a true story about a ship carrying whiskey that went down near an island in Scotland toward the end of World War II. But the book is really about all of the islanders and their interactions with their off island friends and family. I enjoyed it very much and I am going to try a ...more
Melissa
Nov 02, 2012 Melissa rated it really liked it
Shelves: scots, britlit
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
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Sandy
Mar 09, 2013 Sandy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Blue Mountains Library
another book group book. It was a joy to read this, again based in fact, novel about two tiny islands in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland where after suffering several weeks without whisky a ship containing thousands of cases is run aground and suddenly there is whisky galore! Mackenzie’s larger than life characters are great and the story is a hoot, I can thoroughly recommend it. I score it 4.5/5. Book group gave it 3.7/5 .


H.C
Sho
Feb 13, 2011 Sho rated it liked it
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.
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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
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