Book Group Discussion: Beside the Ocean of Time

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Nov 2016
7:25pm, 30 Nov 2016
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Little Nemo - this kitten can
Serendippily and Dio, those are interesting points that you've both made about the style of the stories changing. That they start off simple when he was a boy and got more complex as he grew up. I didn't pick up on this at all and it makes total sense now.
Nov 2016
8:00pm, 30 Nov 2016
11847 posts
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Columba
I quite enjoyed it but wouldn't want to re-read, nor to give as a present unless to someone who for some reason wanted to know more about Orkney. Reading other people's comments has actually made me appreciate it (in retrospect) rather more than I did when I read it; like Nemo, I didn't pick up the fact that the stories became more complex and less childlike as Thorfinn grew up.

I liked the picture of Orkney crofters' life. The eviction of all the islanders and the destruction of the island to create a base for planes in the run-up to the war was the bit I felt most intensely about; both sad and angry. And the islanders all just left, more or less meekly, and continued their lives elsewhere.
Dec 2016
11:57am, 1 Dec 2016
18950 posts
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Diogenes
Sorry, I wrote Ragnar when I meant Thorfinn, stupid me.

In Yelverton in Devon where some friends of ours live there is a single story parade of shops. They used to have a first floor but these were removed when the second world war airfield was built to allow the planes room to take off and clear the buildings. Although not quite as bad as having your property seized and demolished completely, losing half of your premises must also be quite distressing.

There was a section I was going to quote but it is more like a whole page in length:

"The truth is, that while we are closed in by this muddy vesture of decay, the lives of very many people, including ourselves, seem vain and futile and fleeting at last. We cling avidly, and often with despair, to the dust that is ourselves, knowing how soon it is to scatter to the twelve winds, and yet we seek to garnish this 'crudded milk, fantastical puff-paste' that is our body with as much gear and goods and gold as it can bear, and even with more than is good for it. 'We bear our heavy burden for a while, then death undoes us'... It is all meaningless, unless we predicate another self, a real self, a soul, that is seeking life-long for a true treasure, the grail... The trouble is, the pilgrim is hidden most of the time, only glimpsed now and again at moments of great distress or joy.

The body laments, the body dances; from somewhere deep within, in the heart's heart, or from beyond the furthest star, the good angel, the guardian, is playing on his pipe.

The music goes on and on, unheard for the most part. Through this lifetime of vanity we creep, stumble, march, follow plough and scythe, linger, hirple on a stick, until at last the feet are folded and lie still: but, seen through the angel's eye, it is an immortal spirit that dances from birth to death, all the way, from before the beginning till after the end.

Every dance, every lifetime, is unique, and that infinity of dances from every race and from every era, is of incalculable value, and comprehends the great ceremonial dance of mankind. But the music will not be known in all its glory until it is rounded with silence."
Dec 2016
7:03pm, 1 Dec 2016
780 posts
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Serendippily
I like everything except the hirple
Dec 2016
10:24pm, 19 Dec 2016
13894 posts
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Dr TinselD
I felt the same as Lorraine. Bit meh at first then really liked it at the end. I'm glad I read it, but, like Columba, I suspect I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
Dec 2016
7:35pm, 20 Dec 2016
116 posts
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Jools79
I really enjoyed this. Surprised myself as it is far from what I'd usually read. Found myself exteremley lost in my own little bubble when reading...will look up some more of his work as a result.

Thanks to whoever chose this one x
Dec 2016
9:41pm, 20 Dec 2016
27176 posts
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McGoohan
It was Serendippily, Jools
Dec 2016
10:15pm, 20 Dec 2016
19451 posts
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Diogenes
I had a similar response too, Jools

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