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What Ends

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  61 ratings  ·  18 reviews
In 1980 the McCloud family welcomes Trevor, their third child and the last to be born on Eilean Fior, a small island off the west coast of Scotland. Life there, on the eve of Trevor's birth, is grim: the population, once in the hundreds, now hovers around thirty; his parents stubbornly maintain the family business, a guesthouse, despite their increasing trouble turning a p ...more
Hardcover, 265 pages
Published January 1st 2014 by New Issues Poetry and Prose
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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Larry H
Mar 19, 2014 rated it liked it
I'd rate this 3.5 stars.

In 1980, Trevor McCloud is the last baby born on Eilan Fìor, a small island off the coast of Scotland. While at one time the population of Eilan Fìor numbered in the hundreds, times have been tough, and only a few families remain. Trevor's parents operate a guesthouse, which mostly caters to tourists in the summertime, and the adjoining pub serves as the center of the continuously shrinking community.

Trevor's arrival is disruptive to his two older siblings—Barry, the stud
Nov 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
The McClouds are the last family with children on a tiny island in the Scottish Hebrides. Eilean Fior’s population has been declining steadily for years, and as Andrew Ladd’s novel begins, the only new inhabitants are rats.

Owners of a guesthouse popular with summer tourists, George and Maureen McCloud cling to their livelihood despite the portents of gloom. But do they and their three children have any more control over their fate than the rats which can be systematically trapped and removed?

Jan 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Andrew Ladd's debut novel is sad. Really, really sad. But despite the sadness of a tiny island's last family struggling to come to grips with the inherent loneliness of living alone on a tiny island, there are moments of joy and beauty. In the family's simple routines, the way they relate to one another, the way they make a life in isolation.

It's an acknowledgement that life can be beautiful and confounding, despite the bleakness, the sometimes utterly dull slog of the everyday.

Chris Witkowski
Nov 09, 2014 rated it liked it
Just how much does the geography of where you were born have to do with your life experience? Quite a lot, if that place is the grim, isolated, fictional Scottish island of Eilean Fior. In his novel, What Ends, Andrew Ladd tells the haunting story of George and Maureen McCloud, whose youngest son, Trevor, is the last child ever to be born on the island. The story opens in 1980 with Trevor's birth and leaps back and forth between then and the early 21st century, with interspersing flashbacks to t ...more
Jan 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In his aptly named debut novel, Andrew Ladd accomplishes much with little. By the end of the first chapter, we know that Trevor—the youngest of the McCloud family—will be the last remaining inhabitant of Eilean Fior, an island already in decline by the time of his birth. What we don’t yet know is how this island’s story will inevitably end, or to what ends each family member will go to escape it. Ladd’s prose invites the reader beneath the surface of what is a seemingly simple story about seemin ...more
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Hebrides and the Orkney islands are isolated places, and perhaps their proximity to the sea with the hard, dangerous craft of fishing sharpens one's senses. Isolation may hone them further. Coupled to the passing of time with decay or change, and the gradual depopulation of these isles makes for poignant reading.

I have spent time with George MacKayBrown's poems before reading What Ends, and it colored my sense of place although the mythic, religious and fatalistic is much deeper in those po
Full Stop
Jun 09, 2014 added it
Shelves: spring-2014

What Ends – Andrew Ladd

by Tammela Platt

[New Issues Poetry & Prose; 2014]

The most sophisticated aspect of Andrew Ladd’s debut novel, What Ends — winner of the 2012 AWP Award for the Novel — is its shifting perspectives and narrative voices. The free indirect discourse moves between the five members of the McCloud family: George and his wife Maureen and their children Barry, Flora, and Trevor. We get glimpses of each character through the eyes of their fami
Jayne Charles
Mar 05, 2016 rated it liked it
There was a feeling of restraint about this novel, set on a remote Scottish island with few inhabitants. Events are handled with understatement, where a trashier novel might have sensationalised them. Maureen's relationship with the Environmental Health guy was a case in point. I also thought the chapter written from the point of view of a dementia sufferer was a bold experiment that worked very well. I enjoyed the insight into life on an island with hardly any neighbours - the nuts and bolts of ...more
Jun 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels, blurbed-it
I read this because the author, a friend, asked me for a blurb. But more importantly it's a very good book, not to mention being set on a Scottish island which I am always glad to see in fiction.

Here's what I wrote in my blurb:

"Like its Hebridean setting, WHAT ENDS is landscape of subtle shifts and bright revelations. With a keen eye and a generous heart Andrew Ladd charts the lives of an island's last family, bringing their remote home from the periphery of world events to the center of our att
Christi Poulsom
Jun 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful book that haunts you as much as the wild places it describes. Whilst reading it I thought of so many places where people have fought to keep the life they loved, and yet it slipped from sight.

The only part I struggled with was the backward time shift in one section, not sure why.

A sad tale in so many ways, yet there was joy if you looked for it, in relationships that seemed broken but were mended, or held out the promise of redemption.

Read this book - I hope you will love it too.
Feb 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What I enjoyed most about this book was that the author chose to tell the story from each of the family's viewpoint, and to weave the whole together by a fluid back and forth in time sequence. Throughly a good read.
Jun 05, 2015 rated it liked it
Beautifully written, very descriptive; however, I was disappointed in most of the characters AND the ending. Still, worth the read.
Diane Warrington
Aug 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Bleak and sad. None of the characters were easy to get to know and some quite selfish. Beautiful descriptions of an island in the Hebrides.
Dec 13, 2014 rated it liked it
A little bleak. I struggled to relate to or like the characters that much. I especially felt sorry for George.
Michael Podlasek Kent
Apr 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: six-star-books
Aug 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk, fiction
Think carefully before reading this again
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Feb 07, 2016 rated it liked it
Really, really sad.
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Andrew Ladd is the blog editor for and his work has appeared in Apalachee Review, Memoir Journal and, among others. He grew up in Edinburgh and has since lived in Boston, Montreal and New York. He currently lives in London. What Ends is his first novel.

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