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A Month in the Country [Paperback]

J. L. Carr
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
Price: 6.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

15 Feb 1991
In J. L. Carr's deeply charged poetic novel, Tom Birkin, a veteran of the Great War and a broken marriage, arrives in the remote Yorkshire village of Oxgodby where he is to restore a recently discovered medieval mural in the local church. Living in the bell tower, surrounded by the resplendent countryside of high summer, and laboring each day to uncover an anonymous painter's depiction of the apocalypse, Birkin finds that he himself has been restored to a new, and hopeful, attachment to life. But summer ends, and with the work done, Birkin must leave. Now, long after, as he reflects on the passage of time and the power of art, he finds in his memories some consolation for all that has been lost.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 116 pages
  • Publisher: The Quince Tree Press; New edition edition (15 Feb 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0900847921
  • ISBN-13: 978-0900847929
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 13 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 652,550 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

J.L. Carr was born in Thirsk, Yorkshire, in 1912. For many years he was headmaster of a primary school in Kettering until he left in 1967 to set up a small publishing imprint called the Quince Tree Press and to write fiction - he published eight novels altogether including A Month in the Country (1980), which won the Guardian Fiction Prize, and The Battle of Pollock's Crossing (1985), which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. He died in 1994. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
95 of 98 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Birkin, the ageing narrator, reflects on the summer of 1920 when he - a young, shell-shocked and cuckolded survivor of World War One - spent some weeks in the Yorkshire village of Oxgodby. He is there, ostensibly, to uncover a lost medieval mural in the village church; a painstaking process of recovery. Yet while there, living and working in the church, he discovers treasures of far greater value in the people around him. He is shown anew the gifts of compassion and acceptance, of friendship and respect that he thought the Great War had blown away forever. Spanning one short, hazy English summer Carr has written a short, hazy English novel to treasure. Its ending comes, like that of the season itself, too soon and the reader is deprived of nothing less than the light of a sun. Magical and mournful, this novel's controlled simplicity numbs me each time I read it.
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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just wonderful 10 Aug 2000
By Helena
This book is, without doubt, one of the most beautiful I have ever read. It is deceptively simple and delightfully slow-paced, full of Lawrence-like depictions of a vanished pastoral landscape. The focal points are a casual and peculiar friendship between two war-scarred, shell-shocked men and just a barely discernible hint of a female love interest. In a book barely 100 pages long, the author not only manages to give us a story that flows like a stream, but also achieves stunning characterisation, bitter indictment of war and a corresponding celebration of peace, a little suspense, and even a twist in the tail. An exemplary study in subtlety.
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51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
I have read and re-read this story so many times now that it is hard to know what to write. Suffice to say, this book is an exquisite recreation of a bittersweet summer which you read first as a perfect historical novel, re-read as an analysis of love and art and finally almost breathe in as a cobweb of love, pain, healing and rediscovery. If that makes it sound like new-age hippiedom then I misdescribe it. In its restrained beauty this book somehow captures the essence of what, even in these more jaded days, is unique about England. And I write that as an inhabitant of Wales. It is a wonderful tale.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting 12 Jun 2001
By A Customer
It tells the story of Tom Birkin, recently returned from WW I, who goes to the town of Oxgodby to restore a medieval wall-painting in an old church. Over the course of his time there, he gets absorbed into the life of the town, falls in love, learns (and reveals) something about the nature of art, and the healing power of both art and love. That makes it sound as if the book's some sort of mushy new-age blather, and it's not at all. It's a short and profoundly entertaining novel. I would have loved to have been assigned this in a high-school English class, because (1) Carr's vocabulary is remarkable, and the occasional strange words he uses are worth looking up (e.g., "sneck"), and (2) it has a lot of the sort of structure that one is forced to write about in English classes ("contrast the relationship between Birkin and his work with that between Moon and his...") but which in this book actually contributed something to the story -- there are multiple parallel threads in the book, and their interweaving makes it richer. I could've written a decent essay about that...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Month in the Country by J.L. Carr 15 Dec 2010
Truly a modern classic that fully deserves its critical acclaim. Beautifully written and wonderfully evocative. I was privileged to know J.L.Carr and the book reflects much of the character and personality of the writer I so much respect and admire.
May I recommend to readers of these reviews Byron Roger's biography " The Last Englishman. The Life Of J.L. Carr", published by Autumn Press Ltd.
If only the DVD of the film were less expensive...
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the real Regeneration 8 Mar 2001
I can't stress enough the pleasure I derive from reading and re-reading this book. Tom Birkin, a restorer of church murals and WW1 veteran, spends the smouldering summer of 1920 in a small Yorkshire village restoring a mural in the local church. Birkin's work, his deepening relationship with the local inhabitants and surrounding countryside, and his sudden, but unrequited, love for the local vicar's wife all serve to begin the healing process for his broken spirit. Carr's wry, but beautifully crafted and understated style prevents any hint of sentimentality or self-pity from ruining the atmosphere of the novel. Carr shows Birkin slowly rediscovering the basic decency and humanity of ordinary people, places and experiences. This is Oxgodby's gift to Birkin and Carr's gift to us. Magnificent.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gorgeous eulogy for the perfect Summer 11 April 2013
By nigeyb
We can ask and ask but we can't have again what once seemed ours for ever - the way things looked, that church alone in the fields, a bed on a belfry floor, a remembered voice, the touch of a hand, a loved face.

Birkin, a damaged World War One veteran, is employed to a find and restore a mural in a village church, whilst another veteran is employed to look for a grave beyond the churchyard walls. The writer looks back 58 years later, and as an old man, on his idyllic Summer of 1920. The bitter-sweet happiness the writer describes feels fragile and ephemeral which makes the story all the more beautiful, powerful and haunting. This short book packs so much in: love, loss, social history, the way the past impinges on the present, ageing, war, nature, relationships, spirituality, religion, pain, healing, happiness, and disappointment. Beyond that, the less you know about this book the better, suffice it to say it's a masterpiece and you should read it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars I don't like it
5 stars
Published 2 days ago by Nora Collins
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 19 days ago by Mr. O. J. Hill
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Beautifully written but not terribly exciting
Published 25 days ago by villagemum
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
A compoletely different book inside this cover - don't buy it!
Published 27 days ago by SarahC
4.0 out of 5 stars An enchanting book on the behaviour of Butterflies entangled in a good...
An absolutely fascinating book, beautifully written with a good story line. The description of the movements and habits of the butterflies were so good, it made one want to... Read more
Published 27 days ago by Helen
5.0 out of 5 stars A real classic
Fabulous book
Published 1 month ago by Nicola C
5.0 out of 5 stars Super
Great read.recommend. Beautifully economically written.
Published 1 month ago by Pat foster
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Beautiful and moving -so apt for WW1 memories
Published 1 month ago by john mackey
5.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable and thought-provoking read
This is a relatively short but beautifully crafted book. It tells the story of a WW1 veteran suffering from mental fatigue and trying to come to terms with all that he saw and... Read more
Published 1 month ago by agoodreader
5.0 out of 5 stars A Month in the Country.
This is an immensely good read, I would recommend the dvd as well.
Other JL Carr books are available and would be of interest.
Published 3 months ago by Binky Barham
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