Beside the Ocean of Time

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Bayeux, 1994 - Fiction - 217 pages
9 Reviews
In this novel set on the fictitious island of Norday in the Orkneys, George Mackay Brown beckons us into the imaginary world of the young Thorfinn Ragnarson, the son of a crofter. In his day-dreams he relives the history of this island people, travelling back in time to join Viking adventurers at the court of the Byzantine Emperor in Constantinople, then accompanying a Falstaffian knight to the battle of Bannockburn. Thorfinn wakes to the twentieth century and a community whose way of life, steeped in legend and tradition, has remained unchanged for centuries. But as the boy grows up - and falls in love with a vivacious and mysterious stranger - the transforming effect of modern civilization brings momentous and irreversible changes to the island. During the Second World War Thorfinn finds himself in a German prisoner-of-war camp, and it is here that he discovers his gifts as a writer. Long afterwards he returns, now a successful novelist, to a deserted and battle-scarred island. Searching for the peace and freedom of mind he had in abundance as a child, he finds instead something he didn't even know he was looking for. George Mackay Brown intertwines myth and reality to create a novel of deceptive simplicity. The story of Thorfinn and the island of Norday is a universal and profound one, rooted in the timeless landscape of the Orkneys, the inspiration of all his writing.

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Review: Beside The Ocean Of Time

User Review  - Goodreads

Can get a bit confusing but the Scottish setting is fantastic, descriptions are amazing, the main character is a bit wishwashy but the idea of the dream vision within the novel is interesting and carries the story in the weaker moments. Read full review

Review: Beside The Ocean Of Time

User Review  - Goodreads

Everyone should visit the wonderful Orkney islands. And when they do they should read this book. It is simply written and knits together much of the stories of these islands in an engaging way. Read full review


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About the author (1994)

George Mackay Brown was a Scottish poet, author and dramatist, whose work has a distinctly Orcadian character. He is considered one of the great Scottish poets of the 20th century. "Beside the Ccean of Time" was short-listed for the 1994 Booker Prize.

He studied at the University of Edinburgh and lived most of his life in Stromness, Orkney Islands. He died in Stromness in 1996. This is his last collection of poems.

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