Home > contemporary, Genre, Reading Challenges > Book Review: Emotional Geology by Linda Gillard

Book Review: Emotional Geology by Linda Gillard

Mountain in the distance with water in the foreground.Summary:
Rose is a textile artist with bipolar disorder who for years found her medication dulled her ability to work.  After a stunning betrayal that landed her in a mental hospital, she has moved to a quiet, extraordinarily rural island in Scotland in an attempt to control her illness with as little medication as possible so she may still create her art.  Her life isn’t quite as quiet as she imagined it would be, though, with a warm neighbor, Shona, who introduces her to her brother, a teacher and poet.

A rural island setting combined with art, romance, and mental illness–I knew this book and I would be fast friends before I even started reading it.  What I discovered was a book that addresses multiple universal issues–grief, betrayal, loss, family ties–in a glorious setting that left me dying to visit Scotland, if only to discover what peat smoke smells like.

The style of this book is unique.  Gillard easily transitions between perspectives, points in the time-line of Rose’s life, and even poetry versus prose.  I was astounded to discover that I enjoyed the poetry portions creeping up in the book.  They tend to happen at points of high emotion and exquisitely express the high highs and low lows someone with bipolar disorder goes through.  The changing of perspectives and time-lines could sometimes feel a bit jarring; that could have been smoother done, but I appreciate the style and vibe Gillard is going for.  It almost mimics the jarring highs and lows of bipolar disorder.

More importantly, though, the book exquisitely, gently shows that people with mental illness are just people like everyone else.  They may feel things slightly more strongly or need to work harder to stay balanced, but the mentally healthy have emotions too.  The mentally healthy can be thrown just as badly by life’s experiences.  If I could sum up the book’s point, it would be that we all have scars.

So you see, Rose, if you would just step outside your own fucking head for a few moments, you’d see you’re not the only one with scars. In any case the worst ones, the most disfiguring are never visible to the naked eye.” He zips up his fly. “I can probably live with yours. Can you live with mine?” (location 3816)

This is an emotional, challenging, touching book to read.  I recommend it to fans of contemporary fiction with a heart.

4 out of 5 stars

Source:  Kindle copy from author in exchange for my honest review

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  1. Diane Jolly
    November 29, 2011 at 11:24 am

    I’m always on the lookout for interesting fiction with believable characters – with bonus points for originality – and this certainly seems to fulfill my criteria. That it is set in Scotland only adds to its potential appeal. I will admit that I will find it challenging: the themes are way outside my comfort zone. But, hey, we read to make sense of worlds: our own and that of others, and it sounds like this might do just that.

    • November 29, 2011 at 2:54 pm

      I’m glad to hear you would enjoy it, Diane! Please be sure to enter the giveaway here.

  2. November 29, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Thanks for this great review. I was thrilled with it. 🙂 I shall be very happy to sign & inscribe a copy of EG for the winner.

    Do readers have to post a comment on the giveaway post? Do comments here count as well?

    • November 29, 2011 at 2:53 pm

      Ah, well, I am always honest, Linda, and your book was a wonderful, refreshing read! I stayed up late a couple of nights to finish it. 🙂

      Comments should go on the giveaway post! It makes it easier for me to number them for processing through random.org.

  3. November 30, 2011 at 3:20 am

    Yay we’ve read the same book, and we both loved it too! My review went up this morning for this book 🙂

    • November 30, 2011 at 8:34 am

      Yay! I love that we both read and reviewed it within a day of each other. How random! Lol

  1. November 30, 2011 at 6:37 am
  2. December 11, 2014 at 10:44 am

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