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In a Land of Plenty [Hardcover]

Tim Pears
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 April 1997
Set in a small town in the middle of England in the aftermath of World War II, this tells the story of ambitious industrialist Charles Freeman, his wife Mary, and their three children. Each individual plays their part as Britain claws its way from the grey austerity of the war years.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1st edition (7 April 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385408463
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385408462
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15 x 5.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 595,213 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"'A big book with a big heart. Pears is an unashamedly moving writer and this marvellous book will reduce many to tears' Punch"

"'His genius in telling a story...An operatic novel full of death, sex, brothers, sisters, cousins and throbbing hearts' Daily Telegraph"

"'Astonishing and amibitious...Each detail is resonant, and the author's realism and compassion irradiates the writing. A story about people - us - and their context, written with authority and unshowy grace. Early nineteenth-century France had Balzac, we have Pears to trace our fortunes and follies' The Times"

"'Impossible to resist. I could go on about how wonderful it is, but read it for yourself' Time Out"


'He's an astonishing novelist, as interested in small domestic detail as in the wider implications of human relationships. A long book, yes, but so satisfying that I wished it even longer'

Good Housekeeping

" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

A rich and engrossing epic of English life from the author of Landed --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have happily given this one star or five! 11 May 2001
By A Customer
Not sure what to make of this one at all. A family saga running from the 50s to the 90s charting the lives and times of the Freeman family, this book is easy to admire but difficult to like.
Pears does a good job of balancing the historical sweep with the individual stories, and I certainly believed in and became involved with the characters. However, the fate of James Freeman, who is the nearest thing the book has to a main character, is so cruel and sad that the book leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. I'm not giving anything away here, the books starts with a 'flash forward' that makes it clear he doesn't have a happy end. Which means you read the whole book with a growing sense of foreboding.
This is a very serious book which takes itself very seriously. There is little if any humour here. It is also seems to me a very pessimistic book it terms of its view of life. Perhaps that is a reflection of the state of Britain in the mid 1990s.
I don't regret reading it (and it was along haul) but would find it difficult to recommend it to anyone. Approach with caution!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The family photograph album ... 9 April 2013
By taiaha
This is a very cleverly crafted novel, chronicling the lives, loves and disasters of a mainly dysfunctional family living in "Middle England" during the 1950's to the present day. The central characters are not particularly endearing, and seem peculiarly superficial - but this is because the book is written through the lens of a camera. The camera is wielded by the central character, James, an obsessive and socially inept photographer.

The whole book is written in mainly short paragraphs, each acting as a snapshot of family life as it develops (or not) through the lifetime of James. Just occasionally, there is a snapshot out of chronological order, which piques our curiosity, and we glimpse a fate that we know, but not why. And it is the why? that leads us on...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good family saga 7 Nov 2004
By A Customer
All in all a good read, however I found the story speeds up and slows down through the years without warning, resulting in that i found myself fliping back through previous pages to check what had just happened.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant.. 2 Aug 2001
A warm, moving family chronicle which was difficult to put down after the first 50 or so scene- setting pages. One of the best books I have read. Usually I ignore the overly hyped reviews which publishers insert at the beginning of books but on this occasion I agreed with all the praise.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ever get the feeling you've been cheated? 15 Oct 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A Forsythe Saga for the 20th Century, what could be more exciting? You have the back-drop of post-war austerity, the swinging Sixties, the winter of discontent and the Thatcher years; how could it fail? BY NOT HAVING A SINGLE INTERESTING THING HAPPEN OVER THE ENTIRE 600 PAGES! There are plenty of involving characters but each could have done with their own story, not shoe-horned together so that in order to keep the narrative linear there is no scope for interesting or involving incidents to happen in their lives. Charles, as the patriarch of the family would have made a great central character as his business thrives then fails but he is just one of a cast and so we don't learn too much about him. Laura and Robert's relationship occurs and ends while another character is the subject of the narrative so we never discover how it started or why it went so wrong, and that is the most interesting plot strand in the book! If you want a family saga try Middlemarch, if you want a "rise and fall" story try "A Man in Full", if you want to feel short-changed read this.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic 10 May 2005
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who likes a book about everyday people, that you can really get your teeth into. The characters are brilliantly described and the most central member of the Freeman family, James, is a genuinely inspiring person. It is sad what happens to him and I kept on willing him to live happily ever after with the woman of his dreams, but, as in real life, sometimes things just aren't meant to be.
I don't think the book is too long or a slog in places, as described by others. The book is a reflection of life in that sometimes not very much happens, and at other times your whole world can be turned upside down. All of the characters in this book become friends and you end up caring for all of them.
This book made me laugh, smile, almost cry, and made me fearful of turning the page when things turn sour for James and Laura. This book was also responsible for me spending many a day at work struggling to stay awake and concentrate after I had stayed up until the early hours of the morning unable to put it down. Read it!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Characters lack emotional depth. 20 July 2001
I enjoyed the first third of this book more than the rest apart from the odd bit of good descriptive comment. I saw it as a sort of short history summary, which failed to draw on the depth of emotion that should have been experienced by the various characters. It was as if the author was saying there are no consequences to be faced for bad behaviour - only nice people pay the price, perhaps that was what he was trying to convey. Overall I found it a bit boring.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to engage with any of the characters 3 May 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
We've just read this book in our book group and feel that there must be something wrong with all of ten of us, because none of could engage with or believe in any of the characters. It didn't seem clear who or what the book was about, and we wondered if it had been written with a visual eye (eg with TV adapation in mind) rather than with the internal life that you expect in the written novel. In the end, it just seemed like a tragic saga of some rather unusual people.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Could have been so much better
I really wanted to like this book as I love long books that enable one to understand characters and plot in depth (I've read War and Peace twice!). Read more
Published 15 days ago by Anthony J. Armstrong
3.0 out of 5 stars Lacks pace, too long and required editing
A family saga of the second half of the 20th century set in the Midlands and extending over 630 pages? Read more
Published 11 months ago by Dr R
5.0 out of 5 stars Family Chronicle
The second Pears book that I have read. Quite simply one of the best books I have read. Powerful, moving and absorbing. One that I will definitely read again at some point.
Published 12 months ago by Clouds Hill
5.0 out of 5 stars The Beauty of Everyday Life
A wonderful, big story about a family growing up in Middle England, stretching from the 1950s to the 1990s. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Kate Hopkins
4.0 out of 5 stars Pears as usual
Pears has a knack of writing in detail without being boring. This saga of a changing family over time just flows.
Published on 8 Jun 2010 by Mrs. Audrey Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book I've Ever Read!
I had my first encounter with this story when I saw the television adaptation around 5 years ago. This inspired me to read the book. Read more
Published on 5 Feb 2006
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing, loved every page....
Brilliant, I felt could empathise with every character, the journey of a family, affected by suicide, love, hope, dreams, acceptance and of course secrets and lies. Read more
Published on 14 April 2005 by "purpleraz"
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written but cold hearted
Not sure what to make of this one at all. A family saga running from the 50s to the 90s charting the lives and times of the Freeman family, this book is easy to admire but... Read more
Published on 8 Jan 2002 by Lendrick
5.0 out of 5 stars Occasionally disturbing, truly fascinating writing.
This story follows a family through fame and fortune to despair, ruin and death. However, the journey is often beautiful and always sincere, with bursts of hilarity which make it... Read more
Published on 6 Nov 2001
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