Granta Best Young British Novelist In Waterline, one of the most celebrated debut novels of recent years, Ross Raisin tells the story of solitary young farmer, Sam Marsdyke, and his extraordinary battle with the world.
Expelled from school and cut off from the town, mistrusted by his parents and avoided by city incomers, Marsdyke is a loner until he meets rebellious new neighbour Josephine.
But what begins as a friendship and leads to thoughts of escape across the moors turns to something much, much darker with every step. 'Powerful, engrossing, extraordinary, sinister, comic.
A masterful debut' Observer 'Astonishing, funny, unsettling ...An unforgettable creation [whose] literary forebears include Huckleberry Finn, Holden Caulfield and Alex from A Clockwork Orange' The Times 'Remarkable, compelling, very funny and very disturbing ...like no other character in contemporary fiction' Sunday Times Ross Raisin was born in 1979 in West Yorkshire.
His first novel, God's Own Country was published in 2008 and was shortlisted for nine literary awards including the Guardian First Book Award and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. In 2009 Ross Raisin was named the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year.
He lives in London.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 224 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
- Publication Date: 05/02/2009
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780141033525
Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews.
Review by gaskella
Sam Marsdyke is nineteen, and due to something that happened in his past, is stuck working on his family’s sheep farm on the North York Moors instead of getting a life. Virtually ignored by his parents, he wanders the moors with his dog looking at the world from up there with a mixture of amusement, detachment and resentment.One day life starts to get more interesting for him. A family of ‘towns’ moves into the farm next door; moved out from the city to get a better life. He sees them arrive, and watches the teenaged daughter laughing with the removals men…"She’d know about me before too long. Not me, course, but my history, painted up in all the muckiest colours by some tosspot, gagging to set her against me. A piece of gossip travels fast through a valley. The hills keep it in. It goes from jaw to jaw all the way along till it’s common news, true or not. Specially when the valley’s full of tosspots, such as this one."It’s obvious right from the beginning that Sam’s resentments run far deeper than just the incomers, he has little time for anyone except his dog. It’s also obvious that he’s going to fall for the girl, and she too, appears to be interested in this lanky young man – or is she just using him? ’Ere long, they get into some scrapes together, and you know it will all go very, very wrong…The entire novel is narrated entirely by Sam, and scattered finely with lovely Yorkshire dialect words such as fettling, trunklements and blatherskite – all good woody words, (to quote Monty Python). Unusually for me I didn’t find that the dialect got in the way, Raisin has a light hand with it and gives Sam a distinct voice. Underneath it all Sam is shy; his schoolmates all called him ‘Lankenstein’; he tends to blurt and lash out, making decisions that he played out totally differently in the fantasies in his head, making him a rather unreliable narrator. You’re never quite sure what he’s going to do next, as his thoughts and the reality of his actions are often very different. It was this duality to Sam that absolutely gripped me from the start.I really enjoyed the scenery too tramping over the moors with Sam, who is quite the nature boy. There is a fair bit of humour in the novel, but as you might expect, it gets darker as it goes. I found this novel ‘reet gradely’ (well my maternal grandmother was Yorkshire-born), and thoroughly recommend it.
Review by AllieW
My word, what a disturbing book. For the most part you find yourself believing the narrator and protagonist, Sam. However, about 3/4 of the way through it becomes apparent that he is not all he seems and things take a rather sinister turn. Brilliantly written with excellent characterisation, this is well worth a read.
Review by AdonisGuilfoyle
A funny, poignant, but ultimately twisted tale about a young farmer's son from the North Yorkshire moors who forges an unnatural friendship with a schoolgirl. To begin with, Sam Marsdyke, who narrates in a broad Yorkshire dialect full of words like 'gradely' and 'blatherskite', comes across as a bit of a modern day Heathcliff, abused and misunderstood. His father is bad-tempered, his mother has distanced herself from him, and all Sam has is nature - the farm animals and the wild moors - and his young sheepdog pup, Sal. So when Jo, the fifteen year old daughter of the 'townies' who buy a neighbouring farm, starts talking to him, and showing an interest in the workings of the farm, the reader almost feels glad for Sam. There are warning signs from the start - the incident at school, and taking revenge on a neighbour for imagined gossip - but perhaps Sam deserves a chance to prove himself. Is he lonely and frustrated, or angry and dangerous? The truth is like a betrayal of the reader's trust, and suddenly Sam is no longer merely quirky and awkward, with a droll line in introspection, but a complete stranger.I enjoyed the narrative voice, which reflects Sam's character - blunt, comical, but also of another time and place. For the most part, he speaks with a plain Yorkshire accent, but Raisin peppers his character's thoughts and dialogue with archaic words and phrases, straight out of Kellett's <i>Yorkshire Dictionary of Dialect</i>, showing how Sam is tied to a dying breed of moortop farmers. He's nineteen, and living in a contemporary world of Wetherspoon's and <i>Heartbeat</i> daytrippers, but he sounds like a rustic character from James Herriott's books: '[the ram] steadied up when he was with the wether - poor castrated sod who kept himself pot-of-one the rest the year waiting for his charver the tup to come and stay, though I didn't know what the bugger it was them two had to talk about'. Some of Sam's observations had me smirking, but the unravelling of his disturbed mind soon sobered me up.A fascinating novel, but a truly frightening character.
Review by Ma_Washigeri
Four stars for the writing. I love books written in dialect and this one really comes alive. Probably make a fantastic radio play. The narrator also comes alive and while you see clearly the people around him, by the end you feel how deeply he is cut off from from all other human beings. They are part of the scenery for him, or less than the scenery. He cares for animals and people but without fully understanding the expectations between people that underpin family ties and a wider society. This is sufficient for working on the farm, but not for normal relationships with people.<br/><br/>I finished the book feeling a bit queasy and reluctant to give it 4 stars and I am still exploring just why. I felt the author was colluding with the verdict of many in the book that he was 'a bad one' and that nothing could have been done, which does not fit my own philosophy. However I decided that the author is telling it like it is - and I can read it as a person not put together right, or broken - rather than evil. There is also a dark North Eastern english element simmering in the background. Unforgiving. I shall not want to re-read this book, but while I was reading it was very compelling and I'm glad I did, despite it being so uncomfortable once the half way mark had been passed and you realise there is no salvation.<br/><br/>Comic it is not. Don't know how anyone could use that word with this book.