Electric Brae has been credited with inaugurating a new direction in the contemporary Scottish novel. It is neither urban nor male-centred nor angry. Instead it is distinguished by its breadth of sympathy and generosity of vision. At its centre is the crumbling seastack of the Old Man of Hoy and the consuming relationship between a young artist, Kim, coldly passionate, talented, secretive, and Jimmy, a North Sea roughneck, engineer and climber.
It is a story about passionate, painful love and ice-climbing, loss and renewal, loyalty and betrayal, politics and art, fathers and children. It also deals with the possibility of friendship between men and women, overturning and inverting stereotypes all the way.
Shortlisted for both the McVities Prize and the Boardman-Tasker Award, this book was hailed on its original release in 1992 as a seminal work in Scottish literature. The story, subtitled A modern romance, is set in the grab-it-and-run 1980s - a time of imploding idealism among those of the baby boomer generation. Passionate love, obsession and betrayal are played out around the mountains of Scotland and beyond, and the sense of Scottish identity is central to everything that happens. Greig has published books of poetry and also written about mountaineering, and his knowledge of both these disciplines is in evidence here. He tells the story from various perspectives, in present tense and past, first person and third. The method works well, allowing subtle shifts of emphasis. In exploring his characters psyches he reveals some disturbing things about humanity as a whole as well as a few that are uplifting. Anyone who lived through the turbulent 80s will relate to the themes in Greigs story. He has created a compelling study of character and attitudes that derives much of its power from the rugged Scottish landscape and the complex relationships of three people with very different reasons for being there. His account is totally evocative of time and place, and lightened by some sophisticated humour. This is a quality piece of fiction that certainly merits its reissue. (Kirkus UK)