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Whisky Galore

(Home Guard Series #2)

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  1,293 ratings  ·  139 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 December 28th 2004 by Vintage (first published 1947)
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Average rating 3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,293 ratings  ·  139 reviews


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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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Jeanette
One of the most fun books I have read in a long time. Loved it!
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, Captain M
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Griselda
Nov 24, 2014 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
Lynne King
May 28, 2016 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.
Gerry
Jun 11, 2013 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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James Oden
Mar 10, 2011 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
Catka
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Three solid sturdy stars for the story plus one for the sheer amount of whisky overflowing from each page, even when there is a shortage of it.
Catherine
Apr 30, 2011 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
...more
Simon
Mar 08, 2012 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
Ian
Jun 22, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good story but which unfortunately just continued to a predictable, inevitable finale without adding any unusual exciting twist to the overall plot. Lots of interesting characters introduced but it did become a little confusing when trying to remember their job descriptions/roles in society and which of the two isles of Todday they actually lived in. Good without being spectacular - 3.5 stars for me.
Laura
Oct 06, 2013 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.
Andrew MacKenzie
Jun 02, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: novel
This was a book I have been meaning to read all my life and during lockdown I finally found the time. I must declare an interest here as my father's side of the family come from Uist which is actually mentioned in Compton Mackenzie's novel (no relation btw).

This is a wonderful peek into wartime Hebridean life, with its more idiosyncratic elements still surviving to this day. The way Mackenzie constructs the narrative and dialogue and writes it as it sounds (e.g. "sarchant" for sergeant and "chic
...more
Judith Lewis
Feb 19, 2012 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 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
...more
Simon
Apr 15, 2015 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
Simon
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a delight!

The characters, the islands themselves, the Gaelic, the wonderful Mistress Odd and St. Minnie. All of this and more make this book a delightful read, once you manage to follow who the characters are and their names.
The original Ealing comedy of Whisky Galore is a pleasure and the 2016 remake surprisingly good, with a brilliant Eddie Izzard as Waggett, played so, so well but for me the book is the best, while the films are simple sketches.
This book is worth the read and repays the
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Melanie (Mel's Bookland Adventures)
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.
Diana
Aug 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a book about whisky, so how could it not be a fun book to read. ;)
Jonkers Jonkers
Sep 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this. Loved the complete obsession with Whisky (although I can't stand the stuff). Watched the film afterwards (the original) and enjoyed that too.
John Mccullough
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This charming book first published in 1947 is a fictionalized version of an actual event that occurred off the Scottish island of Eriskay in 1941. During WW II and before the U S entered the war, Great Britain was in dire need of armaments which it could not produce for itself in sufficient quantities, nor could Britain pay for the armaments entirely in cash. The deal eventually brokered was that the U S would ship munitions in convoys of “Liberty Ships” to Britain. In return, Britain would pay ...more
Lori
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, fiction, scotland
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alice
Aug 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For the first time I was moved to deface a library book by writing in it. I expect you're wondering what made me do it, and I expect when most of the people who use this site read my reason they will think I'm mad. I underlined the word ginger and pencilled in STEREOTYPING next to: "Ah well, he gets a bit het up sometimes. Anyone with a ginger top always does".

Now I expect you're laughing at me, but it does annoy redheads to be stereotyped like that.

I know you won't be laughing at me as much as
...more
Kingfan30
Mar 06, 2013 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.
Marie-Anne
Sep 06, 2012 rated it liked it
Nice enough, but it's no Para Handy.
Marie
Aug 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was recommended to me as 'Katie Morag for grown ups'. I'm a sucker for Katie Morag. I loved this. Original, engaging and funny.
Naomi Slade
Nov 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A re-read. Always enjoyable, very much of its time!
Hancock
Jan 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is fun light reading.
Mel
May 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A fun and funny read, and it's about whisky. I enjoyed it immensely. Good stuff!
Glass River
Sep 06, 2020 marked it as fic-guided
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Around the Year i...: Whisky Galore, by Compton Mackenzie 1 9 Apr 24, 2019 03:56AM  

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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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Home Guard Series (2 books)
  • Keep the Home Guard Turning

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