From the evocative opening sentence of Malachy Tallack’s moving account of the journey he made, following the 60th parallel westwards, from his home in Shetland, to Greenland, Canada, Alaska, Siberia, St Petersburg, Finland and Aland, Sweden and Norway and, finally, back to Shetland, I felt that I was making the journey with him. This is so much more than a collection of descriptive accounts of the physical landscapes he visited, mainly because he reflects on how they, and their inhabitants, have been “shaped” by the history of these places. There are as many differences as there are similarities and he reflects on these as engages with the people he met on his journey. I found all of this fascinating but for me the real strength of his story comes from his moving, often painfully poignant explorations and reflections of the emotional turmoil he had experienced following his father’s death (when the author was sixteen) and his need to make sense of his memories and experiences. His eloquent prose, his acute and evocative observations, of not only the external landscapes he was exploring but also his interior “landscapes” of grief and mourning, all combined to make this an unforgettable read for me. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Linda Hepworth 4*
60 Degrees North: Around the World in Search of Home by Malachy Tallack
Polygon 9781846973420 pbk Jun 2016