I never would have found out about Emotional Geology by Linda Gillard if Angie of Angieville didn’t feature it on her blog. Holly of Book Harbinger also gave it a glowing review so I knew it was pointless to resist. This book isn’t available here in the Philippines (or even in the US, I think) but you can order a copy from the Book Depository. I wanted a signed copy though so I contacted Linda Gillard and she was kind enough to give me a review copy when I bought her other book, Star Gazing. I decided to read Emotional Geology first.
Here’s the summary from Goodreads:
Rose Leonard is on the run from her life. Taking refuge in a remote island community, she cocoons herself in work, silence and solitude in a house by the sea. But she is haunted by her past, by memories and desires she’d hoped were long dead. Rose must decide whether she has in fact chosen a new life or just a different kind of death. Life and love are offered by new friends, her lonely daughter, and most of all Calum, a fragile younger man who has his own demons to exorcise. But does Rose, with her tenuous hold on life and sanity, have the courage to say yes to life and put her past behind her?
Oh wow, I don’t think I can write a review that would do this book justice. I can’t even classify what genre it falls under. Emotional Geology is about so many unfamiliar things – it’s about forty-seven-year-old Rose and her everyday problems as she tries to cope with bipolar disorder and a past that’s been troubling her for years. Rose settles in a remote area in Scotland, hoping to immerse herself in her work as a textile artist. She finds a kindred spirit in Calum, a handsome younger man who teaches in the local school, climbs during his free time and writes poetry whenever he can. The story focuses on these two broken individuals – how they’re both burdened by their problems, how they try to rise above them and how they form a friendship based on how they see the world as artists. You know how someone gets you even when you barely know each other? I think that’s the case with Calum and Rose. The point of view bounces from first to third person with bits of poetry thrown in between, changing from the present to several years in the past to fully explain Rose’s experiences. It was a bit confusing at the start but I became used to the writing as I moved forward.
This was a refreshing and enlightening read for me because like I said, I know nothing about textile artists, climbing, geology or even Scotland. North Uist seems like a bleak and quiet place. Megan, Rose’s daughter, even worries that her mother has chosen a lonely life when Rose decides to settle there. I think it’s an appropriate choice for Rose and it’s the perfect setting for her story. I would love to visit the area if I ever get the chance. Some of the characters in the book, like Calum, are serious climbers and I never realized how dangerous the sport (or hobby or obsession) is. I’ve tried some wimpy local climbs (very easy trails) and I also have friends who are mountain and rock climbers and I don’t think they face the same risks that the climbers in Emotional Geology do. For one thing, we never have to worry about snow or frostbite here in the Philippines. Even if I wasn’t familiar with a lot of things in this book, I was drawn to the characters because they felt very real. Linda Gillard did an amazing job of making me feel like I was inside Rose’s head. The author was able to illustrate how erratic Rose’s moods are – what Rose was thinking and feeling during high and low points in her life and what causes her to react in a certain way. This might seem like a grim book but it has a message of hope as the characters struggle to move on so they could find the happiness that they deserve. Haunting, lyrical, Linda Gillard’s writing will stay with you days after you finish reading Emotional Geology. Highly recommended for fans of literary and women’s fiction.