Book review – Quarry Wood by Nan Shepherd (The Grampian Quartet #1)

Another disappointing read (2015 is getting off to a very bad start for me). This book has been compared to Sunset Song (an absolutely perfect and shining classic) but the similarities of location and female protagonist are only superficial. In Sunset Song, Chris Guthrie is a strong, solid and self aware character. She may be torn between two worlds but she always knows who she is.

Martha Ironside in Quarry Wood, is barely even a two-dimensional character. She exists entirely though the eyes of others, even her name changes depending on who’s speaking to or about her. We are told that she is intelligent and a “being of pure spirit” (!) but that never comes out in the writing. She seems bumbling, moody and socially inept.

The ‘passion’ that Martha supposedly discovers within herself reads an awful lot more like a mental illness. The author seems to have put a great deal more of her talent into describing the weather than drawing characters


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