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Out Backward

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  1,034 Ratings  ·  148 Reviews
Sam Marsdyke is a lonely young man, dogged by an incident in his past and forced to work his family farm instead of attending school in his Yorkshire village. He methodically fills his life with daily routines and adheres to strict boundaries that keep him at a remove from the townspeople. But one day he spies Josephine, his new neighbor from London. From that moment on, S ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published July 1st 2008 by Harper Perennial (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
Jul 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Paula Connelly
May 26, 2013 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
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
Jun 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 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 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 23, 2013 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
Apr 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
***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
Nov 02, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Sep 06, 2012 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 15, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
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
Mar 31, 2013 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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 18, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
‘He must’ve came out backward’ In the depths of the West Yorkshire moors, life can be a little lonely – especially if you’re Sam Marsdyke. After being accused of rape at 15 years old, Sam was expelled from school and forced to work on his father’s sheep farm. Four years later and the accusation still has the tiny village talking and Sam’s role as the ‘outcast’ is unscathed. However, Sam seems to thrive off his isolation as it gives his unnerving imagination room to wander and fantasise. Happies ...more
Amy Westgarth
May 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This didn't turn out the way I thought it would from the blurb, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Although the narrative was straightforward, the trick was to read between the lines to see what was really going on. I liked how things escalated and the increasingly sinister tone. Whether Sam was actually fully aware of his actions or not is a matter for debate.

I'm going to stick with a 3-star rating mostly because I don't think it will prove particularly memorable in time to come. I liked
chris tervit
It started off well - liked the Yorkshire rural/farming setting & the writing but the plot goes awry & so I went off it. Good narrator for audiobook & I would consider reading more by same author but would hesitate to recommend this one. Keen to read Ross Raisin's latest re football ('A Natural') after saw him at Edin Book Fest this summer.
Of note this book has nothing to do with the film of same title which is out now & I loved- can see why folk are saying it's the 'Yorkshire Br
May 12, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
'a funny yet terrifying narrator' the Financial Times call the protagonist. nothing funny in here. did not like plot or characters.
Ryan Williams
May 06, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Rip-off of The Butcher Boy: derivative and over-praised.
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Ross Raisin is a British novelist. He was born in Keighley in Yorkshire, and after attending Bradford Grammar School he studied English at King's College London, which was followed by a period as a trainee wine bar manager and a postgraduate degree in creative writing at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Raisin's debut novel God's Own Country (titled Out Backward in North America) was published in
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“there wasn't use trying to talk with a girl just because of something she'd said to me in a dream” 1 likes
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