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Publisher's Summary

The most acclaimed Scottish novel of all time, Sunset Song is a powerful portrait of a land and people in turmoil, seen through the life and struggles of its heroine, Chris Guthrie.

In the years up to and beyond the First World War, Chris' resilience, like the land itself, endures despite everything and is portrayed with a lyrical intensity that echoes through the years and still resonates today.

©2015 Canongate Books (P)2015 Canongate Books Ltd

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Absolute masterpiece!

This book was AMAZING and is being added to my all-time favorites list.

My wife and I are heading back to Scotland this year and I wanted to read something Scottish so I went to the 'ol Google, searched for “best Scottish novels”, and chose Sunset Song off the list. Win! .

Sunset Song was published in 1932, and the primary storyline takes place in the years 1911 to 1919. It is set almost entirely in a very small, fictional Scottish town called Kinraddie, only a few square miles in size. Kinraddie is located just off the North Sea, north of the Kingdom of Fife, south of Aberdeen and west of Stonehaven. I visited St. Andrews and a couple small fishing towns in the Kingdom of Fife in 2015 and I could picture what Kinraddie would be like in my mind. Since the entire story takes place in a small area, the natural landmarks, buildings, paths, roads, pastures, etc., all play important parts in the book and the ten homesteads and geography of Kinraddie are described in detail in the first chapter of the book to give you a mental picture of where you will be spending the next ten hours.

The book is read, actually performed, by Scottish actress Eileen McCallum. This is probably the best narration I’ve ever experienced in an audiobook. She makes every character come alive and brings life to the Scottish words and colorful language found throughout. She sings the songs the characters sing to each other and a couple songs from a wedding and this adds so much to the audio version of the book over just reading the lines in the paper version. Speaking of the paper version, after so many words befuddled me in the first chapter I bought a paper copy as it contained a map of Kinraddie and an eight-page glossary of the Scottish words used. According to the notes at the end of the book, the author reluctantly allowed the glossary to be included in the United States edition "should the context refuse to give up the meaning of a Scots word used" and he hoped it would be used seldom as to not break up the flow of the book. The author was also quoted as saying that his aim was, “to mould the rhythms and cadences of Scots spoken speech and to inject in to the English vocabulary such minimum number of words from Braid Scots as that remodeling requires.” The language gives this book an unique and enjoyable personality the likes of which I’ve rarely, if ever, experienced before.

Bothy billies = unmarried farm workers
Fleering = scaring, scoffing
Hubbley-jock = turkey
Jookery-packery = inappropriate behavior
Keek = peep
Tink = intinerant labourer
Wame = belly

Sunset Song starts by describing the history of the Kinraddie area, going all the way back to the 12th century and about thirty minutes later you are fully familiarized with the main inhabitants of the town as of 1911 when the narrative of the main storyline begins. The primary characters are fully fleshed out in this informative introduction so that you feel you know exactly what they look like, where they came from, and what their personalities were like. You even know how the gents styled their mousers.

The plot of the story begins to move forward in the second chapter when we are introduced to the Guthries, who move to Kiradde after the lease on their farm in Echt is not renewed. The Guthries become the major characters of the novel, with most of the rest of the novel told from eldest daughter Chris Guthrie’s perspective. The rest of the novel is absorbing and a joy to listen to. We laughed, we cried, and laughed some more. You feel like you know the residents of Kinraddie and feel their joys and pains as they go through life and are affected by the political and economic factors of the day, and eventually World War One.

Sunset Song is an absolute masterpiece. The cover of my paper book boasts that it was voted the "Best Scottish Book of All Time”. I can't speak for other Scottish books but I'm with the voters on this one. I can’t recommend the audiobook highly enough. Twenty stars.

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  • K. Cole
  • Cincinnati, Ohio, US.
  • 11-27-16

masterpiece reading of a mssterpiece

I can't say enough about this recording of a Scots masterpiece. The reader's accent was very similar to that of my Granny from Ulster which added to the appral, though perhaps out might take some work for most Americans.

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  • Karen
  • Winston-Salem, NC, United States
  • 10-23-16

Beautiful language

Gibbon's poetic language spoken in McCallum's appropriately thick accent combine to require closer attention, but oh, so worth it! Gibbon tells an honestly realistic tale in words that make it beautiful.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Beautifully told.

What a treat to hear this. Perhaps my first north east story. I look forward to seeing the show now. Thank you.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good book for learning about the land and its authors

I am going to Scotland and wanted to get in the spirit. This was a good one to give me a sense of the people, land and history. The narrator made the story come alive, with her authentic accent being both a pro and con. I enjoyed her accent and the colloquialisms of the Scottish but at the same time found it difficult to understand, especially when she was speaking quickly. I may have to get the written book to study and decipher some of the language. Would recommend!

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    5 out of 5 stars

A very fine book and surely a Scottish classic

Beautifully and evocatively read and very moving. Such a lyrical description of place and a culture no more.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Andrew
  • 12-28-15

Wonderfully read in a convincing accent.

Absolutely loved listening to Eileen McCullum convincing accent and dialect; brings the story alive! Marvellous!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • John Boyle
  • 12-02-15

Wonderful

Fantastic narration. I've read Sunset Song many times and will never tire of it. Eileen McCallum's voice is perfect and added so much to an already firm favourite of mine. I'm looking forward to listening again.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Scotty Spark
  • 05-12-18

Bliss

Brought up in Aberdeenshire I hear the voices of my ancestors given life by Eileen McCallum. What a skill she has in bringing out the beauty, poetry and pain of these words. She speaks the language of the Mearns.

How can she be persuaded to read the remaining two books of the trilogy? I feel we owe it to the next generations to have these books read in the authentic voice by someone who understands the people and can act as a bridge between that world and this.

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  • Jacqui calder
  • 02-21-18

Astoundingly good

I have be browsing on here in and off since joining to see if there ever would be an audio book of Sunset Song and here at last it is. This is my favourite book so it was more than a wee bit trepidation I had wondering if it would be read well. I needn’t have worried. The narration is perfect, authentic Scots doric- only off a bit on the highland voice which to my ear was more Irish than island but as this was a tiny bit of the book it didn’t matter. The narrator rendered the gossipy, noisey, opinionated, folk of Kinraddie brilliantly and although set a 100 years ago I recognise so much of my ain folk in the characters that the book has a timelessness to it.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anna Bobak
  • 10-07-17

beautifully read by Eileen McCallum

It was narrated with a soft Doric accent which brought the novel to life for me.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mr. J. Fanning
  • 05-12-17

Beautiful absorbing narration of the book.

What made the experience of listening to Sunset Song the most enjoyable?

Eileen McCallum. What a performance as narrator. Breathtaking. Stunning. Loved it. Have listened to it time and again.

What did you like best about this story?

The use of language. The setting.

What does Eileen McCallum bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Stunning. You'll cry listening to this.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, absolutely.

Any additional comments?

Simply the best audio book I have purchased from Audible. Will Cloud Howe and Grey Granite be available?

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Agatha Christie
  • 01-27-17

Outstanding performance

Where does Sunset Song rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Great book made all the better by the masterly performance of Eileen McCallum. Please release her reading of the other two books in the trilogy - they aren't available in any format any more, even cassette, though I was prepared to resurrect my ancient Walkman if necessary!

What did you like best about this story?

The language is sublime and the characters are compelling - but perhaps not for you if you like a fast-moving plot.

What does Eileen McCallum bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

I read this book years ago and while I enjoyed it, I have to admit that I got a bit bogged down reading the dialect. This narration brought the whole setting completely to life.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Samie
  • 12-20-16

A voice from the past.

The language of Sunset Song is the language of my youth. The story of ordinary folk has never sounded sweeter. A real joy.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Francesca F.
  • 11-18-16

great performance

The performance by Eileen McCallum is simply wonderful! of course this is not an easy book so it might be advisable to have the text in front of you while listening or to have read it before. But the performance really helps to appreciate this beautiful novel. And she sings the Scottish tunes in the book, a real treat. I really hope she will record the other two books of the trilogy.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Nick Skinner
  • 10-31-16

AMAZING

Superbly read. A true celebration of a great writer in a rich language. Loved every moment.

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  • vicster
  • 02-07-18

no wonder this is voted as the best Scottish book!

I loved every second of it. Evocative of time and place, full of local colour and wonderful characters.