This was the first book of the new year that I've not been able to read all in one go thanks to having to be back at work. I generally try to only pick books I know I can finish in one night during the week, because I know that my enjoyment of a book is lessened if I have to take breaks. I couldn't resist this one, though. The premise and all of the wonderful reviews had my interest piqued too much to put it off.
I absolutely fell in love with this book. The atmosphere is perfect for the story, and the farm and its various buildings are so beautifully and vividly described that I can't help but feel like I know the place now. Like I can picture every fence and barn and sheep, almost as though they're memories of a visit years and years ago. I just ate up all of the delicious descriptions of Highland weather and spirits and legends. I loved how the ghosts just fit right into the story, without ever coming across as unexpected or unnatural--like they belong there in that house just as much as Nichol or Harry or Cam. I can't recall wanting so badly to visit a place after reading a book set there in such a long time.
Where I know my enjoyment of the book suffered was in the relationship between Nichol and Cameron. I usually love slowly developing relationships, and I still did enjoy theirs. I just had a hard time remembering who was currently chasing whom while the other made excuses. Perhaps there wasn't quite as much back-and-forth as I'm remembering or as it seemed like there was, but it sure felt like it.
I absolutely understand Cam's hesitation in entering a relationship with Nichol, and I love that he's so hesitant because he doesn't think he's good enough. When he finally gives in, though, SO beautiful! And the end where he says "'Nic, I love you. You saved my fucking soul." was perfect!
Perhaps what frustrated me about their relationship is how hard Nichol tried to start it before he finally admitted even to himself exactly what he was trying to start. Right up until the night with Archie he was still trying to convince himself that he wanted something other than what he really wanted. But his line when he finally admits to Cam what he wants is spectacularly beautiful: "I couldn't let him touch me. I don't think I could let anyone but you touch me now, and I don't care how long I have to wait for that." I love that he couldn't have picked more perfect words for Cameron to hear in order to let go enough to give them a chance.
I was also fascinated by the relationships that both Nichol and Cameron had with Harry. Harry himself was a delightful and intriguing character, and I found myself wishing sometimes I could see him through anyone else's eyes than Nichol's, just because of the years of issues between them. It was still fascinating to see Harry's reactions and then see Nic's interpretations of them.
I think what I loved most is how the title of the book had so many different layers and applications in the story. Obviously when we're talking about the actual physical scrap metal, there are the sculptures, but also the parts that got sold to help pay off debts.
If it's taken metaphorically, though, then it's so much more intriguing. Both Nic and Cam had felt like scrap metal their whole lives: unwanted, second-best, overlooked. Until they found each other. And I love how grateful Nichol is to be loved by Cameron and to have that one person in his life choose to put him first.
The writing here was also spectacularly beautiful. So many phrases made me stop just to read them over and over and enjoy the way the words were put together. I adore when words make me do that.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I would love to read it again when I do have time to read it all in one sitting, as I can't help but feel that this would push it over the line from loving it to thinking it was amazing.
Some favorite quotes:
"My burglar had made me a cup of tea."
"The mug was so warm, and my hands so cold, that it didn't feel as if we belonged in the same universe."
"Maybe I was being stupid, but an old faith was stirring inside me, a willingness to lean on the tides of the universe instead of swimming desperately against them."
"He'd found me perfectly resistable five years ago, when I'd been begging him not to break us."
"as if we'd been designed in two long-separated parts and were finally clicking together."
"Yes, solid--far more than anything else in this spinning, badly made world."
"'I just want...'
'What?' If he told me, I'd organise it. Rip it down from heaven or fish it up from hell."
"the guilt had become a kind of scaffold to me, a prop."
"He kept wrong-footing me by putting me first."
"There was a child in me who wanted to strip off too and dash around on the sand, but I'd had to move so far away from boyhood pleasures that I couldn't close the gap."
"lifted his hands high in an instinct of greeting, worship, exultation, something I'd never been able to define for myself but saw clearly in his face as he turned back toward me."
"I'd start the world again for both of us from scratch."
"Joy hit me.... It knocked out the ghosts from me, sent my second-best childhood flying."
"He was the heart of my world, my gravity, my sun."