Solo Lisa Reads: Morvern Callar By Alan Warner

Looking for a summer beach read that isn't fluffy chick lit or a fashion magazine? If you're in the mood for something distinctive, quirky, and well-written, I recommend Morvern Callar by Alan Warner. I was first introduced to this book in university and picked it up again recently for a very pleasurable re-reading.

Morvern Callar recounts the life of a twentysomething high school dropout living in a Scottish port town and working a dead-end job at a supermarket. A few days before Christmas, Morvern wakes up to discover that her boyfriend has committed suicide. Surprised but remarkably unfazed, she goes about her everyday life--work, partying with her friend Lanna, saving up for a resort holiday in Spain. She does deal with the body eventually (I'll leave it to you to find out how), and uses the money from her boyfriend's estate and newly published novel to plunge headfirst into a life of hedonism. Having grown up in a working class family and faced with few prospects as an adult, she now finds herself having the time of her life, but will it last?

Warner deftly weaves together class politics, Scottish flavour, obscure music (Morvern makes special mix tapes to play when disposing of the body), and the '90s rave scene in this novel, which received the Somerset Maugham Award in 1997. For me, this book is perfect summer reading because of the escapist element of Morvern's journey to Spain--depicted as a land of eternal sun, summer, and relaxation--and the captivating quality of her narrative voice. The Scottish slang and odd Gaelic phrases do take some getting used to, but once you start reading you won't want to stop.

What do you like reading in the summer?


  1. I think there was a film made of novel too??

  2. This book certainly sounds quirky but an engrossing read! I can't think of anything different that I would read during summer vs. any other time of year, except maybe more fashion mags for the beach?

  3. Ooh, maybe I'll pick this up before my flight!
    I've been reading Heather O'Neil's Lullabies for Little Criminals, I'm nearly finished. Definitely recommended, it's heart-wrenching and full of quirk.

    As a Literature student though, I tend to use my summers for fluffy beachy reads to give my mind a break from the heavy stuff I'm always reading through the year!

  4. The book sounds absolutely fascinating. I am certainly intrigued by how he would treat suicide as the backdrop for her change in lifestyle. I shall definitely have to try and find a copy!

  5. May K, you're right! The movie starred Samantha Morton as Morvern.

  6. Ooo thanks for the recommendation, Lisa! I've never heard of this book, but I lived in Scotland for 6 mos and read, watch, wear, breathe anything Scotland- so this is definitely going on my list!

    Cath and I spent many hours in the cool libraries around our home during the summer... so the smell of library books in general remind me of summer ;)

    Have you read "Ahabs Wife"? I strongly recommend it. It ties into "Moby Dick" but in a clever way- and is well written and very intriguing plot-wise.

    Happy reading!

  7. Yay I needed a good book reco~
    I usually just read "chick lit" in the summer!


  8. This sounds so intriguing.
    I'm working my way through my favorite science fiction books for my summer reading...should get back to classics eventually...

  9. HMMMMM! Color me intrigued. I am so glad you recc'd it, I hate finding books on my own. I walk in the bookstore, stay there for an hr but walk out with nothing. Will make a mental note of this.

  10. AsianCajuns, thanks for the recommendation! I'll have to look up Ahab's Wife the next time I go to the library. :)

  11. Sounds interesting!

    You always have great recs!

  12. Sounds like a great book... I'll have to check that out.

    I've just started the Time Traveler's Wife. So far, it's fantastic.


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