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And the Land Lay Still (2010)

by James Robertson

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14110153,242 (4.17)33
Michael Pendreich is curating an exhibition of photographs by his late, celebrated father Angus for the National Gallery of Photography in Edinburgh. The show will cover fifty years of Scottish life but, as he arranges the images and writes his catalogue essay, what story is Michael really trying to tell: his father's, his own or that of Scotland itself? And what of the stories of the individuals captured by Angus Pendreich's lens over all those decades? The homeless wanderer collecting pebbles; the Second World War veteran and the Asian shopkeeper, fighting to make better lives for their families; the Conservative MP with a secret passion, and his drop-out sister, vengeful against class privilege; the alcoholic intelligence officer betrayed on all sides, not least by his own inadequacy; and, the activists fighting for Scottish Home Rule - all have their own tales to tell. Tracing the intertwined lives of an unforgettable cast of characters, James Robertson's new novel is a searching journey into the heart of a country of high hopes and unfulfilled dreams, private compromises and hidden agendas. Brilliantly blending the personal and the political, "And The Land Stay Still" sweeps away the dust and grime of the postwar years to reveal a rich mosaic of 20th-century Scottish life.… (more)
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» See also 33 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Long, convoluted, unchronological, following several major and lots of minor characters (whose stories are all, even if sometimes in the smallest possible degree, inter-related), capturing varying moods ... and extremely captivating. (At least if you have some prior knowledge of post-war Scottish history; I have to admit I don't know if it would have been so good if I hadn't.) ( )
  Stravaiger64 | Dec 29, 2019 |
Michael's opening story begins beautifully, with many compelling possibilities.
Unfortunately, it segues into the boring saga of head egoist Jean Barbour.

The second story, that of Don and Jack, could inspire women to have one baby and file for divorce on the same day.

Great, if very long, updates on the history and recent political events in Scotland weave through book. Focus on Independence is welcome.

Peter Bond's story is also boring and long.

4th tale early features Ellen's Grandparents, Dey and Nana with the strong theme of capitalists vs labor, notably in mines.

I love the message from Angus - Trust The Story. ( )
  m.belljackson | Sep 26, 2019 |
An intricately crafted social and political history of Scotland through the second half of the twentieth century, told through the personal accounts of an eclectic mix of characters whose lives intersect and occasionally intertwine. There is undoubtedly a strong focus on the development of the Scotish independence movement but it is well set within both individual lives and the broader swathe of social change.
I read this, my second James Robertson, after To Be Continued. They are so different I wondered if there were two James Robertsons and had to check that they were actually by the same author. Both are outstanding. 13 November 2018 ( )
1 vote alanca | Nov 20, 2018 |
A fascinating and grand book that taught me a lot about Scottish political, economic and social development in the second half of the 20th century (starting post WWII ) as well as portraying their traditions and mores, and all this as background to the human stories involved. A narrative of characters that started out as totally separate stories but as time progressed their relationships were revealed to be interwoven. It was a superbly written book with a complex and finely developed structure. My only complaint was its length (688 pages of small print), but since the book was made up of separate stories that could be read independent wholes, you could take a breather in between and still have the satisfaction of a complete story. Actually I took such a breather at one point that I forgot who was who as there were quite a few characters ( )
1 vote amaraki | Apr 20, 2018 |
This is an epic of modern Scotland. From the vanishing species of the tartan Tory to the pro independence activist; the working classes to the property millionaires; boarding schools to council houses; folk singers and spies - everyone gets a look in to a book built around a photographer and a shell shocked war veteran, both in their own ways attached to the land. Is it a propaganda piece for independence? Not quite, but perhaps. Either way, it's a serious book, where the inter locking stories mesh cleverly into a rich pattern
1 vote otterley | Apr 16, 2014 |
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Epigraph
'The Summons' by Edwin Morgan from 'Sonnets from Scotland'.
Dedication
This book is dedicated to the memory of two other Anguses and one other Jean. All three were, and continue to be, influences in subtle and special ways. Angus Matheson 1926-2007. Angus Calder 1942-2008. Jean Bonnar 1923-2008
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Sometimes it felt like walking, sometimes it felt like flying.
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Michael Pendreich is curating an exhibition of photographs by his late, celebrated father Angus for the National Gallery of Photography in Edinburgh. The show will cover fifty years of Scottish life but, as he arranges the images and writes his catalogue essay, what story is Michael really trying to tell: his father's, his own or that of Scotland itself? And what of the stories of the individuals captured by Angus Pendreich's lens over all those decades? The homeless wanderer collecting pebbles; the Second World War veteran and the Asian shopkeeper, fighting to make better lives for their families; the Conservative MP with a secret passion, and his drop-out sister, vengeful against class privilege; the alcoholic intelligence officer betrayed on all sides, not least by his own inadequacy; and, the activists fighting for Scottish Home Rule - all have their own tales to tell. Tracing the intertwined lives of an unforgettable cast of characters, James Robertson's new novel is a searching journey into the heart of a country of high hopes and unfulfilled dreams, private compromises and hidden agendas. Brilliantly blending the personal and the political, "And The Land Stay Still" sweeps away the dust and grime of the postwar years to reveal a rich mosaic of 20th-century Scottish life.

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Michael Pendreich is curating an exhibition of photographs by his late, celebrated father Angus for the National Gallery of Photography in Edinburgh. The show will cover fifty years of Scottish life but, as he arranges the images and writes his catalogue essay, what story is Michael really trying to tell: his father's, his own or that of Scotland itself? And what of the stories of the individuals captured by Angus Pendreich's lens over all those decades? The homeless wanderer collecting pebbles; the Second World War veteran and the Asian shopkeeper, fighting to make better lives for their families; the Conservative MP with a secret passion, and his drop-out sister, vengeful against class privilege; the alcoholic intelligence officer betrayed on all sides, not least by his own inadequacy; the activists fighting for Scottish Home Rule – all have their own tales to tell. Tracing the intertwined lives of an unforgettable cast of characters, James Robertson's new novel is a searching journey into the heart of a country of high hopes and unfulfilled dreams, private compromises and hidden agendas. Brilliantly blending the personal and the political, And The Land Stay Still sweeps away the dust and grime of the postwar years to reveal a rich mosaic of 20th-century Scottish life. [Amazon.co.uk]
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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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