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The Outrun by Amy Liptrot

The Outrun (original 2016; edition 2015)

by Amy Liptrot (Author)

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2681266,461 (4)68
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)
Title:The Outrun
Authors:Amy Liptrot (Author)
Info:Canongate Books (2015), Edition: Main, 305 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

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The Outrun by Amy Liptrot (2016)

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    The Aran Islands by John Millington 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 9 (next | show all)
I have always had an interest in the Islands north of Scotland. Blame it on growing up with a Sheltie I guess :) . I enjoyed this memoir. It was so interesting to ready Liptrot's descriptions of island life, and the nature and history of the Orkneys. I understand that her battle with alcoholism was important to her coming back to the Islands, and was glad for the context, but I was also glad that it did not dominate this book. It was really satisfying to read such a personal account of life in this remote area. ( )
  alanna1122 | Jan 27, 2019 |
When the author finds herself at "rock bottom" due to an alcohol addiction, she rediscovers her home in the Orkney Islands. She beautifully describes the island and its habitat; however, it is ruined by the descriptions of her alcholism. She eventually winters on the Isle of Papay. While I loved the descriptions of Orkney, I did not enjoy reading about the author's addiction. I also did not appreciate the way she mocked her mother's Evangelical Christian faith. If the author simply focused on Orkney's natural environment, I would have enjoyed the book far more. ( )
  thornton37814 | Jan 8, 2019 |
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 |
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