Sunset Song, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


Faced with a choice between her harsh farming life and the seductive but distant world of books and learning, Chris Guthrie eventually decides to remain in her rural community, bound by her intense love of the land.

However, the intervention of the First World War leaves her choice in tatters.

Chris is now a widowed single mother: her farm, and the land it occupies, is altered beyond recognition - trees torn down, people displaced.

But although the novel describes a way of life which is in decline, it also presents a strong image of hope.

Chris adapts to her new world, displaying an intuitive strength which, like the land which she loves, endures despite everything. "Sunset Song" is a testament to Scotland's agricultural past, to the world of crofters and tradition which was destroyed in the First World War.

It is a powerful description of life in the first few decades of the century through the evocation of change and the lyrical intensity of its prose.

Renowned expert Ian Campbell has produced the first new scholarly text for fifteen years and has the blessing of the Lewis Grassic Gibbon estate.


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In the 1930s there was a revival of writers recording the death of the countryside in the UK - Richard Jefferies, HE Bates, Vaughn Williams - as farm machinery replaced traditional methods and younger people wanted more from life. There was a need to record it passing. Sunset Song adds its voice to this lament. However, as it talks about the decline of the Scottish crofter, it has a new angle. The characters are fiercely independent from their lairds and King and Country but are nevertheless powerfully though subtly influenced by both - and a wrathful God. The book narrates the villagers hardship and love of the land with vigour. Lewis writes in Scottish dialect which takes some getting used to (though there is a glossary at the back I discovered when I finished) and it is one of those books that packs its punch at the end. I felt I had learnt a lot when I finished it - about Scottish rural communities and the Scottish people. Anyone who is interested in Scotland or rural communities must read it - a classic.

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