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God's Own Country by Ross Raisin

God's Own Country (original 2008; edition 2008)

by Ross Raisin

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2761841,007 (3.7)49
Title:God's Own Country
Authors:Ross Raisin
Info:Viking Books (2008), Hardcover, 224 pages
Collections:Your library

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God's Own Country by Ross Raisin (2008)

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Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
I found this a disturbing but gripping read. ( )
  HelenBaker | Nov 4, 2016 |
Out Backward is the story of a young loner named Sam Marsdyke who works on his father's farm after being forced to leave school for inappropriate behavior. Nineteen year old Sam is an unreliable narrator and he spins a slightly creepy tale about his connection with a recent neighbour, 15 year old troubled teen, Jo Reeves.

Eventually Jo and Sam run away together and slowly both Jo and the reader come to see the fine line Sam is treading between sanity and madness. Things take a decidedly nasty turn when Jo decides to ditch Sam and return home.

The reader first feels sympathy for Sam but ultimately realizes that he is exhibiting psychopathic tendencies. Written in a thick Yorkshire dialect, I strugged a little at first with the language, but this did help bring Sam to life and make the setting all the more authentic.

Out Backward was an absorbing, troubling, terrifically written and and highly readable book. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Aug 24, 2016 |
'brilliantly comic and darkly terrifying', 29 Aug. 2012
sally tarbox

This review is from: God's Own Country (Hardcover)
Sam Marsdyke is an outcast in his moorland village since an alleged assault on a girl while at school. He lives a solitary life, helping his violent father on the farm and training his sheepdog pup. Meanwhile the rural community is being 'invaded' by yuppie types; one such family buys up a neighbouring property and Sam strikes up a friendship with their daughter...
Narrated by Sam, the dialect put me in mind of the language used by the youths in 'Clockwork Orange': 'they were rooted to their seats, shuffling about in dafflement'; 'he glegged at his charver but he didn't know what to do neither'; 'some feckless trunklement no one would ever buy'.

I was absolutely riveted from page 1, when in a hilarious episode Sam, out on his wanderings, encounters some despised ramblers. And although described as showing 'unredeemable delinquency', I found it impossible to dislike Sam, whose affection for his dog and intelligence were in stark contrast to the immature and self-obsessed neighbour's daughter.. ( )
  starbox | Jul 9, 2016 |
  johnrid11 | Feb 14, 2016 |
The unreliable narrator. How much of what he says is true? What does he hold back? Is there ever a time you should take his word on a given event, or is the wisest thing to do turn around and accept the opposite as given truth? As these kind of characters go, nineteen-year-old misanthropic oddball Sam Marsdyke is a whopper of of an unreliable narrator. Even as his soul turns dark and sour, you want- desperately need- to believe this troubled boy’s story.

Sam swears he didn’t try to rape schoolgirl Katie Carmichael in detention as a teen, but his parents- nay, the whole Yorkshire community, believe different. The incident has made Sam quite the outcast, and, maybe because of it, he has developed a revulsion for his peers and people in general. Sam is the farmer son of a cowed mother and an abusive, gruff father, and he develops a rapport with the animals on the farm- Sal, his sheepdog puppy, and even the livestock.

His conversations with animals and even inanimate objects are offbeat and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. The Yorkshire dialect is difficult to wrap your head around, but it’s not really a very tough read- you can usually riddle out what a word means from the context. When Sam meets Jo, a newcomer to ‘God’s Own Country’ and also an off-limits fifteen-year-old girl, it’s obsession at first sight. Jo and Sam strike up a casual friendship, not so casual for Sam, who is completely enamored with her, but the fun doesn’t last long as Sam becomes increasingly obsessed and volatile.

This book has two main plot threads going for it- the modernization of rural farmlands all over (but specifically in England,) which exasperates Sam and his working man father, and Sam’s descent into madness, culminating in the arrival of Jo and her family. The narrative really reminded me of ‘The Butcher Boy’ by Patrick McCabe, in that you’re sucked into the world of a flippant, charismatic madman. The first-person narration really crackles and the psychology behind the character’s madness is pretty legit too.

The only real issue I have with “God’s Own Country” (re-titled “Out Backward” for its US publication) was it was so grim it left me feeling sucked dry by the end. Sam’s sardonic voice alleviates the misery for a while, but as he goes down the rabbit-hole mental health wise you’re left shaking your head in horror. One Librarything user discussed a ‘lack of redemption,’ and she’s absolutely right.

Sam never really learns anything from his experience, though he does manage learn to adapt to his increasingly horrid circumstances by the book’s end. Which may be realistic, but it’s a lot to swallow. “God’s Own Country” was in also unnerving in that it made me sympathize with an increasingly depraved personality. A very bad person, or a person who does very bad things? You can decide for yourself if an when you decide to read this troubling and brilliant book. ( )
  filmbuff1994 | Jun 11, 2015 |
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Ramblers. Daft sods in pink and green hats.
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Book description
Sam Marsdyke is a lonely young man, dogged by an incident in his past and forced to work his family farm instead of attending school in his Yorkshire village. He methodically fills his life with daily routines and adheres to strict boundaries that keep him at a remove from the townspeople. But one day he spies Josephine, his new neighbor from London. From that moment on, Sam's carefully constructed protections begin to crumble — and what starts off as a harmless friendship between an isolated loner and a defiant teenage girl takes a most disturbing turn.


Ramblers. Daft sods in pink and green hats. It wasn't even cold. They moved down the field swing-swaying like a line of drunks, addled with the air and the land, and the smell of manure.

This is the voice of our narrator, Sam Marsdyke, the teenage son of a farmer up on the Yorkshire Moors. He spends his days working the sheep, mending fences, trying to dodge the eye of his brutal, silent father, and most of all, watching the transformation of the farms and villages around him. From the top of the moors he watches the goofy ramblers and the earnest "towns," the families from York, who are feverishly buying up the farmhouses left empty by bankrupt farmers. And as he watches, one young daughter of a new family catches his eye. As he falls for the young, sophisticated girl from London, she begins to see him as a means to escape. She wants to rebel against her parents and he wants to fulfill the fantasy he harbours about her and so they run away together. But this journey across the moors will take a terrifyingly menacing turn which, for him, will prove his terrible undoing.

Sam Marsdyke is an unforgettable character at the heart of this extraordinary novel, a novel that is hugely funny, darkly menacing and will resonate long after you have finished the last page.

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From the top of the moors, Sam Marsdyke, the teenage son of a farmer, watches the goofy ramblers and the earnest 'towns', the families from York, who are buying up all the empty farmhouses. And as he watches, one young daughter of a new family catches his eye. As he falls for her, she begins to see him as a means of escape.… (more)

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