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The Outrun by Amy Liptrot

The Outrun (2016)

by Amy Liptrot

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212978,028 (4.09)54
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    The Aran Islands by J. M. Synge (harmen)
    harmen: Different islands, but gives a nice idea about life on remote islands, back then.

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Honest and moving account of an addiction. The way to recovery and new life lies in leaving London, where her life is a mess and going back to her roots, the Orkney Isles, where she grew up. With such clear and beautiful descriptions of the community in Orkney and the natural circumstances. With as constant factor the weather and the never disappearing wind. ( )
  timswings | Jun 8, 2018 |
Amy Liptrot has returned to her childhood farm in Scotland's remote Orkney islands, after suffering a horribly-gone-wrong life in London. Her London life spiraled out of control as she falls deep into alcoholism. She finally agrees to rehab (national health funded) and slowly works herself out of her addiction.

"When I first left Orkney, my friend Sean gave me a compass. I used to wear it round my neck at parties, and when people asked about it, I would tell them it was so I could find my way home. I left the compass somewhere one night, then I was totally lost."

But go home she does. To her family farm on Orkney with a large coastal grazing area called an "outrun". Slowly she adjusts to a gentler, slower life -- sans alcohol and discovers an new equilibrium.

Eventually, Ms. Liptrot ends up on the even smaller island of Papay. She gets a job working for the RSPCA counting corncrakes (an endangered ground bird) as well as, puffins and arctic terns. Her new life opens her eyes to the healing power of nature.

Ms. Liptrot re-discovers an interest in astronomy, as the island is one of the best places to see the stars with almost no light pollution and there are the occasional glimpses of the Northern Lights.

"I’ve swapped disco lights for celestial lights but I’m still surrounded by dancers. I am orbited by sixty-seven moons."

There is a memorable passage about the rare and beautiful noctilucent clouds. These clouds are invisible most of the year, but in the summer, in this far northern latitude, they catch the sun's rays in the last stages of twilight, as the ground grows dark. Then they burst into brilliant colors.

The first half of The Outrun was beautiful and fascinating, but by the second half, I found it repetitive with the author's "self help" observations. I must admit I skipped over much of the latter half of the book -- but greatly appreciated the totality of the work.

Ms. Liptrot is an exquisite chronicler of island life so near the Arctic Circle, with starkly beautiful passages on island life, sunsets, waves and even shipwrecks

The Outrun is a brave memoir, unvarnished and beautifully written. I closed the book picturing the author living her life -- strong and clean:

"I stride onwards… I am a lone figure in waterproofs walking the coastline, morning after morning, miles from anywhere, at the north of nowhere. But down here, inside myself, I feel powerful and determined."

A digital review copy was provided by W. W. Norton & Company via NetGalley
See all my reviews at bookbarmy.com ( )
  BookBarmy | Mar 29, 2018 |
You could summarise this as "alcoholic recovers on Orkney and nearby islands where she grew up", but then that would shortchange this book so much. She mixes up stories from older and newer parts of her life in a really interesting way that is honest and inspring. ( )
  paulmorriss | Jan 20, 2018 |
A rather wonderful descriptive autobiography of the author's return to the Orkneys after ten years living in London where she became an alcoholic.
Her analysis of her condition and her methods to combat it are well written and engaging. Her writing about everyday experience and the natural world in the Orkneys is fresh eyed, living for the moment and savouring it. ( )
  CarltonC | Nov 3, 2017 |
This is a moving and brilliantly written memoir that is honest and heartbreaking. Amy Liptrot is an alcoholic that has reached the bottom of the heap before she finds treatment and support and starts the process of not drinking. Eventually she returns to her Orkney home and the place and the wildlife give her a chance to explore her feelings, her relationship with alcohol and addiction and write a new future for herself. Many of the chapters read as self-contained short stories as she explores different aspects of Orkney and her life. She is painfully honest about her addiction and the pain that she goes through is heartbreaking. She is also honest about life on a remote Scottish island and doesn't dress it up as romantic but does find something in the wildness that helps her. She becomes an alcoholic in London and it could be read as a book about the bad big city and the good rural haven but I think she avoids this obvious narrative and looks inside herself for reasons for her addiction to alcohol. ( )
  Tifi | Aug 10, 2017 |
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When Amy Liptrot returns to Orkney after more than a decade away, she is drawn back to the Outrun on the sheep farm where she grew up. Approaching the land that was once home, memories of her childhood merge with the recent events that have set her on this journey. Amy was shaped by the cycle of the seasons, birth and death on the farm, and her father's mental illness, which were as much a part of her childhood as the wild, carefree existence on Orkney. But as she grew up, she longed to leave this remote life. She moved to London and found herself in a hedonistic cycle. Unable to control her drinking, alcohol gradually took over. Now thirty, she finds herself washed up back home on Orkney, standing unstable at the cliff edge, trying to come to terms with what happened to her in London. Spending early mornings swimming in the bracingly cold sea, the days tracking Orkney's wildlife - puffins nesting on sea stacks, arctic terns swooping close enough to feel their wings - and nights searching the sky for the Merry Dancers, Amy slowly makes the journey towards recovery from addiction. The Outrun is a beautiful, inspiring book about living on the edge, about the pull between island and city, and about the ability of the sea, the land, the wind and the moon to restore life and renew hope.… (more)

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