Orkney

Overview


Following her wonderful debut, The Still Point, Sackville returns with a strangely beautiful short novel about love and sex and obsession. A literature professor marries his prize student, a woman forty years his junior, and at her request he takes her to the sea for their honeymoon. He is embarked on his life’s work, a book about enchantment-narratives in literature, most all of them involving strange girls and women, but soon finds himself distracted by his own enchantment ...
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Orkney

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Overview


Following her wonderful debut, The Still Point, Sackville returns with a strangely beautiful short novel about love and sex and obsession. A literature professor marries his prize student, a woman forty years his junior, and at her request he takes her to the sea for their honeymoon. He is embarked on his life’s work, a book about enchantment-narratives in literature, most all of them involving strange girls and women, but soon finds himself distracted by his own enchantment for his new white-haired young wife.

They travel to the Orkney Islands, the ancient Mesolithic and Neolithic site north of the Scottish coast, “the Seal Islands,” a barren place of extraordinary beauty. And as the days of their honeymoon pass his desire and his constant, yearning contemplation become his normality. His mysterious bride becomes his entire universe.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Orkney

"Sackville writes like a dream (in all senses), conveying both the uncanny power of love and the inscrutable heartbreak of loss."—Kirkus

Praise for the U.K. edition of Orkney

"Sackville’s second novel is poetic, dreamlike and beautifully written." —The Times

"Lyrical and compelling ... readers will be gripped from start to finish ... Orkney is entirely original. Sackville’s beautiful and poignant novel reminds us of the real nature of tradition, which is not only to insist on retelling old stories, but also to remake them in our own image, for our own time ... In Orkney myth slips free from the dust and politesse of the library, and assumes a vivid, dangerous and unparaphraseable existence." —Times Literary Supplement

"Orkney is a short, strange novel about a couple on their honeymoon. He is an ageing English professor on sabbatical. She is his star pupil ... What begins as a familiar, almost fairytale-like narrative ends as something more fragmented, unsettling, and odd ... Providing a brooding, bruised, ever-changing backdrop to all this is Orkney, the book’s most compelling character of all. In a tribute to Virginia Woolf’s experimental masterpiece, The Waves, the sea in Orkney functions as a kind of rhythmic talisman, its ebb and flow mirrored in the actions, ideas, and themes of the book. More than anything, Sackville’s Orkney is a breathtaking place in the most literal of senses.’ —Scotsman

"A haunting novel set on a beautifully described remote island in Orkney ... It's like a folk ballad, full of otherworldly emotion and strange impulses." —Marie Claire

"A truly remarkable feat of writing ... it sets Amy Sackville up as one of the UK’s most exciting new writers ... she is a genius with her turn of phrase: deft, evocative and clever. One of those writers who so vividly illustrates her story it’s actually physically satisfying to read." —Stylist

"A dark, intense tale of the mysteries of marriage and the never ending lure of the sea ... the intense beauty of the language beguiles the reader with its lilting poetic rhythms and we can hear the constant ebb and flow of the sea ... Sackville is a great literary talent, one to watch in the future." —Bookmunch

"Sackville has written her own rich and rhythmic book of enchantment, a book possessed and of possession, sharing themes with A.S. Byatt, although stylistically the novelists are worlds apart ... Amy Sackville has written a rich and remarkable book, whose language and structure mirror the minds and surroundings of her central characters." —Words of Mercury

The New York Times Book Review - Hannah Tennant-Moore
Sackville's rare gift is for rendering the ordinary so distinctly that it becomes fantastic.
Kirkus Reviews
A lyrical novel heavy with mythological overtones. Richard, a professor of Romantic and Victorian literature, has just taken a bride 40 years his junior. For their honeymoon, she wants to go somewhere--anywhere--by the sea, so she closes her eyes, sticks a pin on a map and opens them to find she's "chosen" a remote island off northern Scotland. Coincidentally, this is near the area where she was born, but when Richard presses her about her family and her childhood, she becomes distant and elusive. Richard's particular area of academic interest and expertise is folklore, especially phantasmic and elusive women like La Belle Dame Sans Merci, Undine and Vivien (lover of Merlin). Richard's wife, who remains unnamed, also seems to partake of this spectral reality, for even though she's 21, she has pure white hair and a wraithlike appearance. The novel chronicles the roughly two weeks of their honeymoon, as Richard finds himself alternately bewitched and puzzled by his new wife, who spends much of her time watching the tempestuous sea even though she's afraid of its power and can't swim. She's also haunted almost nightly by vivid and disturbing dreams of water and being drowned. Although Richard could not be characterized as blissfully happy, he is deeply in love with his enigmatic wife. At the end of their honeymoon, however, the inevitable happens--she disappears mysteriously, seemingly absorbed back into the natural world which she's both alienated from and attracted to. Sackville writes like a dream (in all senses), conveying both the uncanny power of love and the inscrutable heartbreak of loss.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781619021198
  • Publisher: Counterpoint Press
  • Publication date: 4/2/2013
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author


Amy Sackville was born in 1981. She studied English and Theatre Studies at Leeds, and went on to an MPhil in English at Exeter College, Oxford, and an MA in Creative & Life Writing at Goldsmiths. Her first novel was The Still Point. She teaches creative writing at the University of Kent.
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Read an Excerpt


Yesterday morning, at home, I woke beside her for the first time. Well, that is not quite true; last night I slept beside her for the first time, but by dawn I had woken beside her a dozen times, a hundred times, sometimes from a sleep so shallow I couldn't call it waking. Again and again I turned to find another body in my bed, an unfamiliar warmth alongside my own, and wondered where I was and what I had done, before remembering and sinking again into a grateful doze—only to wake again moments later. Each time, as the brown abstraction of my surroundings resolved into the ordinary shapes of my own bedroom, there was still that body beside me, a living residue of an impossibly optimistic dream. All night, the rise and fall of her form, I snuffle and snore.
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