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The Hills is Lonely (Common Reader Editions) Paperback – August, 2002

4.7 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“A sparkling book which could well become a Scottish humorous classic.” -- THE SCOTSMAN

From the Publisher

The Hills is Lonely tells a simple tale: needing to recuperate from an illness, the author finds a suitable retreat on the Hebridean island of Bruach, whose inhabitants, routines, and rituals are as eccentric and entertaining as any reader could wish. Beckwith’s narrative describing island life is filled with humor, surprise, affection, and keen observance. Originally published in 1959.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 309 pages
  • Publisher: Akadine Pr (August 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1888173424
  • ISBN-13: 978-1888173420
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #871,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio Cassette
Time travel into an austere island of the Hebrides of the early 1960s - an entirely different place in time than my recall of the 60s! Remote and harsh, truly a difficult existence, but mingled with fun and high spirits. Ms. Beckwith takes just the right tone - no condescension, but rather an unvarnished yet sympathetic portrayal. Seeking a refreshing convalescence, she is intrigued by a response to an advertisement from an isolated croft in the Hebrides: "Surely it's that quiet even the sheeps themselves on the hills is lonely and as to the sea it's that near as I use it myself every day for the refusals." The reader never particularly gets to know the author, but instead quietly lives the village life of this remote island. Alternatively lovable and bizarre, the locals are sketched with much affection and the language is plainly inspired. The landscape is very much a part of this armchair travel guide to a very uncommon world view. I am off to find Ms. Beckwith's other books, reading this story was like finding riches.
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Format: Paperback
I found a battered copy of this book in a second hand shop about 15 years ago, and still have it, as I won't even lend it out, I love it so much!
Ms Beckwith, a middle-aged spinster in the mid to late 1950's who lives in England, is ordered by her doctor to go somewhere in the countryside to rest and recuperate after an illness (we're never told what), so she puts an ad in a magazine and awaits replies. She is almost decided on going to a farm in Devon, when she receives a very bizarre and absolutely hilarious letter from a woman on the island of Bruach (apparently really the isle of Eigg) in the Hebrides, NOT the Shetlands, offering her accommodation. She is so amused by this letter that she chooses to go and stay there. Rather than a restful recuperation, she has to endure a stomach-churning ferry crossing in a storm, then she has to scale a six foot wall on her arrival on the island and things just get funnier from there! This is a wonderfully funny and gentle book, with an assortment of endearing and hilarious charaters, it's a real comfort read to snuggle up on the sofa with. Ms Beckwith does show the people in an amusing light, but this is done only with the greatest affection, and no malice whatever could be intended. The book is all the funnier when you know that all the incidents really happened and all the characters are real people. I would heartily recommend this book and the following FIVE books in the series:- Lightly Poached - The Sea for Breakfast - The Loud Halo - A Rope in Case - and Bruach Blend.
These really are lovely books, and I can't for the life of me understand why they haven't been turned into a film or at the very least a TV series, as they would be perfect Sunday evening family viewing.
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Format: Audio Cassette
A beautifuly soft and funny book, Ms Beckworth captures the soul of the Shetland Isles. A retired School teacher retires to a remote isle and re-discovers the Human nature. You need to have a love of nature to truly appriciate her view of the world. In this rush, rush world we have evolved to, her story allows us to slow the pace for a while and enjoy the simpler pleasures of life. Try the other 2 books, The Load Halo and The Sea for Breakfast. This is a book you would want when the day is cold and wet. Short but full of characters.
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Format: Paperback
when you are reading this. The characters described is this lovely book will come alive - in all their strangeness and hilarity. The entire premise is bizarre, a not-so-young Englishwoman moves to the isolated Hebrides to live among crofters, who are simultaneously practical, inept, stubborn, deeply loyal, irreverant, convivial, argumentative and drunk a lot of the time. Beckwith certainly has a way with words, especially describing the vagaries of the English that the crofters speak, given that their mother tongue is Gaelic. Many of her observations and stories are laugh out loud funny - my boyfriend kept wanting know why I was laughing so much. If you want to travel great distances in time and space, farther than linear time and space would seem to suggest, check this book out. Personally, it will be on my re-read list and I'm going to get all the other Bruach tales too.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's been a surprise and a joy to read this book I got it because I'm hoping to travel to Scotland this year (may not make it to the Hebrides) and I like to read about things beforehand.

The author was a middle-aged woman who, for some unknown reason (unknown to me), needed a "rest" cure and on a whim she ended up on a somewhat remote island in the Hebredies. This book, and many if not most of the others she apparently wrote, are based on her experiences there.

I suspect that this world no longer exists. There are perhaps (according to the language app Mango) ~100K speakers of Scottish Gaelic now and when this book was written/published in the 50s I assume there were a great many more. Maybe not. But I seriously think that this world is no longer around. Whether that is good or bad is not for me to say but I do immensely enjoy reading of her experiences. As another reviewer elsewhere said, "These are the precursor to the the 'A Year in Provence' " type books. But, really, this type of writing has been around for ages - it just doesn't always catch people's fancy.

Her depictions of the people she gets to know are interesting and often funny (I have laughed aloud on the subway many times in the past few days) without being judgmental and she doesn't give the impression of thinking herself"better" than them. I have found that travel writers sometimes end up making fun of the people they are with - laughing at, not with and I don't find that type of story enjoyable.

I'm looking forward to reading other that she has written...if I can find them in the US.
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