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A Month in the Country Hardcover – 1990

114 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 105 pages
  • Publisher: Cornucopia Press (1990)
  • ASIN: B005ZL5YNM
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)

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First Sentence
When the train stopped I stumbled out, nudging and kicking the kitbag before me. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Helena on 10 Aug. 2000
Format: Paperback
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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105 of 108 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 May 2001
Format: Paperback
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Bookworm on 15 Dec. 2010
Format: Paperback
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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57 of 61 people found the following review helpful By "nikidavies" on 12 Oct. 2001
Format: Paperback
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By nigeyb TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 11 April 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 12 Jun. 2001
Format: Paperback
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 18 April 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Written in 1980 and shortlisted for the Booker Prize, this is a deceptively gentle story. It is 1920 and the book begins with the arrival of Tom Birkin in the small community of Oxgodby in Yorkshire. Suffering from shell shock, he is, "nerves shot to pieces, wife gone, dead broke." Yet he also has his first commission, to uncover a wall painting in the local Church. Sleeping in the tower in the hot August weather, he slowly uncovers the painting as he also begins to recover from all that has befallen him. Along the way he meets Charles Moon, who has also been employed to look for the grave of Miss Adelaide Hebron's forebear (the benefactress who has paid for their work in her will). Moon is also a survivor from the war, his tent pitched over a pit as, "I developed a great affection for holes," he states wryly.

As summer unfolds, Tom Birkin heals. He umpires at local cricket matches, is welcomed by the locals and talks to Mrs Alice Keach, the beautiful wife of the vicar. If you were looking for a novel which is typically 'English' in the best sense, then look no further. A beautiful and evocative read.
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