Emotional Geology - Reviews

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"One of the most outstanding first novels I believe I've ever read."
The Bluestalking Reader, a US book blog


"Complex and important issues are played out in the windswept beauty of a Hebridean island setting, with a
hero who is definitely in the Mr Darcy league!"

Angieville, a US book blog:

...I dropped everything to read it. Read it that very night, in fact. In one solid chunk. I had things to do, sleep to get, work to wake up for, and yet none of it mattered and nothing could tear me away from this breathtaking story. Published in 2005, EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY is the first of Linda Gillard's three novels and I'm in awe that it is her debut....

I had butterflies in my stomach for the entirety of this beautiful book. Every time I turned the page, another arresting passage awaited me. As Rose is a textile artist, creating art from a wide variety of mediums and materials, it seemed fitting to me that this story was pieced together using alternating first and third person narration, letters, poems, and flashbacks. Every one is special. Sometimes it took me a moment to orient myself, but it never left me confused or dissatisfied. Rather, I jumped into each section with verve, wanting to read every piece intently so that I could understand and appreciate the whole. From the opening lines, I knew this book would call my name...

I've been dreaming of Scotland for the past several nights and I have this book to thank for it. The wind and the rain, the gales and the beautiful, beautiful names: Uist, Cuillin, Benbecula, Skye...

This is a story about dealing with grief and betrayal, about the constant battle against despair and the brutalities of the mind, about finding love and deciding to believe in your ability to keep it. I was completely won over by EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY and cannot recommend it highly enough."

"I thought your talk about mental illness was wonderful and you delivered it with wit and authority. I was so impressed, I bought your book, EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY, which I have read and loved to bits."
Sheila Riley, The Romantic Novelists Association

Sari 'frankie' Karjalainen, Book Club Forum reviewer:

"I'm not a very visual person and it's usually hard for me to try and visualise certain things in novels, and one of them is art in particular. However, when I was reading EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY I had no such problems. Rose's textile artwork came to life for me, I could picture it very vividly, the colours, the look of it, and even the feel of the fabrics. All the stones, all the textiles, the colors... I could picture Rose's house very well, the austere and serene look of it, and even the atmosphere seemed to come in colors while reading this book. When Rose was at her neighbor's, I could feel the warmth of the fireplace and hear the wood crackling."

Rhapsodyinbooks Weblog, a US book blog:

"Although this book does not exhibit the polish of Gillard's later work, it is nevertheless astounding in its ability to capture the reality of people and behavior and emotions. The dialogue seems honest and true, like the characters. You don't want to leave them when the book is over, because these are people just like your friends and family, who have strengths and weaknesses that seem familiar. There is definitely emotional pain in this book, but there is a lot of humour and a lot of the complex ropy entanglements of love as well. Gillard's books are not light summer reading; they have more gravitas; they are enduring.
Highly recommended."

A review by Tahlia Newland on the Awesome Indies website:

"My first thought when I finished reading EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY was 'masterpiece'. Beautifully written and deeply moving, it's the story of a woman with bipolar disorder who is trying to start afresh after a traumatic relationship break-up and the resultant mental breakdown.

Rose, a textile artist buys a cottage on Uist, a remote Scottish island, and meets Calum, a poet, teacher and the younger brother of her neighbour Shona. Rose wonders why this handsome, charming forty year old is alone. Though there are hints before hand, the truth only comes out in the final chapters where he reveals his scars both physical and mental in some very powerful writing.

The reason for Rose's breakdown is revealed in scenes of past events. As the story progresses, we discover the full extent of her betrayal by her ex-partner Gavin, and follow her inner journey as she endeavours to cast off his ghost and open herself to the possibility of new love.

This is a multilayered work with a brilliant use of poetry and descriptive imagery using the language of textiles eg colour, texture, weight and movement qualities, as described through the eyes of a textile artist. The descriptions of Rose's all black textile response to Calum's poem, 'Basalt', is exceptional. I saw the piece as if it hung on the wall before me. The description of the gold and white piece was similarly evocative and it's brightness a fitting and highly symbolic balance to the black hanging on the opposite wall.

As with all of Gillard's work, the characterisation was exemplary, especially the sensitive and realistic description of Rose in a manic phase. I loved the parallel drawn between the manic and creative state, something reinforced by Rose's creation of a work of art as a way of coping with a major trauma.

Gillard uses different points of view, first and third, well to give different degrees of intimacy to different scenes. I loved the rhythm created by the different lengths of scenes separated by gaps of time, especially during the party where the various snippets give the vague disjointed experience of someone who had drunk just a little too much.

This is, without a doubt, a 5-star work and one that all lovers of contemporary fiction and romance should read. Also if you like symbolism in stories and lots of layers of meaning to unravel, then you'll love this."

Helen Waddell in WELL? (Scottish mental health magazine):

"An un-put-downable page-turner that is likely to captivate readers across the board."


Linda pictured at Felixstowe Book Festival with
book bloggers Elaine Simpson-Long (Random Jottings) &
Simon Thomas (Stuck in a Book).

Review from www.BookCrossing.com

"Wow. It blew my socks off. I literally could not put it down. I read it in bed. I read it while I was cooking lunch. I read it while I was eating lunch. I walked to the sofa, book in hand, and read it till it was finished.

This book is many things - a love song to North Uist, an enquiry into exactly how art is made (without destroying the art with the enquiry), a thing of beauty, a tug on the heart-strings (I was terrified that something was going to happen to one of these characters that I grew to love), a hymn of praise to the damaged, to the incomplete, a wonderful thing of hope.

And it made me want to take up my sewing again."

Rating 10/10

Liz Broomfield, Birmingham UK


Review by novelist Adele Geras 

Isle of Skye viewed from the sea
(Photo: Bill Marshall)

"Transita is a new publishing house which produces books for women who want to move beyond chick lit... Linda Gillard's EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY was very readable and moving. It has a beautiful cover and is well-written and unusual. It's about a bi-polar woman, recovering from terrible trauma and it's not nearly as grim as that sounds. What I most liked about it was the writer's evident love for fabric, handiwork of various kinds and the way she brings a whole landscape to life. I'm looking forward to her next."

From Adele's website www.adelegeras.com


"What impressed me the most, though, were the characters. Ms. Gillard allows them to be believable. In Rose we see an insecure, almost middle-aged woman struggle for her emotional and physical survival. She has difficulty with relationships, even with that of her adult daughter. Not all mother/daughter relationships in real life are those of best friends, and it is refreshing to see this portrayed in fiction. In Calum we see a man who has plenty of emotional struggles of his own, which he tends to drown quietly in alcohol. Rose and Calum are like real people - neither is perfect. Yet their strengths and weaknesses play well off each other. EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY is good fiction. It is creative, insightful, and most importantly, believable."
Ex Libris, a US book blog

"A compelling, touching, tender book." James Dedman, Depression Alliance newsletter

"A truly gripping story, cleverly written." Depression Alliance Scotland newsletter



A 5 star review by Susie Williams from North Wales:

"How clever: to make connections between geology - rock formations, types of rock, and different landscapes - and gender, character facets, emotional scarring, and artistic interpretation.

I could not put it down. How much more engaging, and life-like, are characters who have been through life's crises. At a time when mental illness is not spoken of (despite a 1 in 3 possibility of facing mental illness at some stage), how refreshing and informative it is to meet a character dealing with the aftermath of a breakdown but also living with bi-polarism.

The main characters are artistic in different ways, yet gradually recognise how they can support and feed off one another's artistic insight and life experiences. I could easily visualise the landscape, settings, and textiles: carefully selected words can paint a picture, and add a texture of their own. Yet it was the inspired connections between the topography, or types of rock, and the artistic creations which really caught my imagination. I felt a yearning to create something myself, and to visit Uist.

As an avid bookworm it was good to read a book that not only grabbed my whole attention, but also inspired me to be creative: now there is a novelty. Excellent. "

A 5-star Amazon review by Alison Hope of Birmingham, UK

"Oh I loved this! A beautifully written novel, about a lovely damaged woman, and her attempt to take care of herself. It is the setting that I will remember most, it is wonderful, and the imagery Linda Gillard has created is powerful and memorable. I immediately wanted to go to the islands around Skye. The descriptions of the light are particularly lovely, and make the place sound beautiful and peaceful. I also quickly grew to love these characters, which is why I stayed up till 2am with them to finish the book, and in some ways now wish I hadn't. When you finish a book you really love it is always a little sad. A wonderful page-turner, which is lyrical and heartwarming and which will stay with me. "