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A Month in the Country (Penguin Modern Classics) [Paperback]

J. Carr , Penelope Fitzgerald
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

3 Feb 2000 Penguin Modern Classics

A sensitive portrayal of the healing process that took place in the aftermath of the First World War, J.L. Carr's A Month in the Country includes an introduction by Penelope Fitzgerald, author of Offshore, in Penguin Modern Classics.

A damaged survivor of the First World War, Tom Birkin finds refuge in the quiet village church of Oxgodby where he is to spend the summer uncovering a huge medieval wall-painting. Immersed in the peace and beauty of the countryside and the unchanging rhythms of village life he experiences a sense of renewal and belief in the future. Now an old man, Birkin looks back on the idyllic summer of 1920, remembering a vanished place of blissful calm, untouched by change, a precious moment he has carried with him through the disappointments of the years. Adapted into a 1987 film starring Colin Firth, Natasha Richardson and Kenneth Branagh, A Month in the Country traces the slow revival of the primeval rhythms of life so cruelly disorientated by the Great War

Joseph Lloyd Carr (1912-1994) attended the village school at Carlton Miniott in the North Riding and Castleford Secondary School. A head teacher, publisher and novelist, his books include A Day in Summer (1964); The Harpole Report (1972); A Month in the Country (1980), which won the Guardian Fiction prize and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize; The Battle of Pollock's Crossing (1985), which was also shortlisted for the Booker Prize; What Hetty Did (1988) and Harpole and Foxberrow, General Publishers (1992).

If you enjoyed A Month in the Country, you might like Ford Madox Ford's Parade's End, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.

'Unlike anything else in modern English literature'

D.J. Taylor, Spectator


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Product details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (3 Feb 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014118230X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141182308
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 12.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

About the Author

James Lloyd Carr, born 1912, attended the village school at Carlton Miniott in the North Riding and Castleford Secondary School. He died in Northamptonshire in 1994.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
When the train stopped I stumbled out, nudging and kicking the kitbag before me. Read the first page
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
95 of 97 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
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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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just wonderful 10 Aug 2000
By Helena
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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51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
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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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
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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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting 12 Jun 2001
By A Customer
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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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the real Regeneration 8 Mar 2001
Format:Paperback
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
Format: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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 5 days 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 2 months ago by Binky Barham
5.0 out of 5 stars Excavation, restoration
This novella has, over the years, become one of my favourite short novels, sharing a rural setting as well as a certain elegiac bittersweet mood with L.P. Read more
Published 2 months ago by GlynLuke
4.0 out of 5 stars A golden summer
The narrator looks back on his summer spent in a small Yorkshire village uncovering an ancient wall painting in the church. Read more
Published 3 months ago by old joanna
5.0 out of 5 stars A gentle, but poignant read.
I loved the way the two main characters were able to absorb the peace and tranquility on the summer countryside and find themselves again working at something they obviously loved,... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Janet Ross Wallington
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read
I read this in a day. Once I started I wanted to keep on reading. Reminiscent of an F Scott Fitzgerald novel but much easier to read.
Published 3 months ago by J PICTON
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfection
I have a small collection of books I treasure, kept together, which I can whisk away with me in the event of an emergency. This is one of them. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful discovery
What a gentle, lovely read. I'm sure it's one of those tales that changes hue each time you read it.
Published 5 months ago by CW
5.0 out of 5 stars English pastoral
This is pure loveliness, the kind of book you can give to anyone. A shellshocked WWI survivor is hired to live in a country church and restore a medieval Judgment Day wall... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Vestal McIntyre
4.0 out of 5 stars A Summer in Time
A gentle, understated read in which the author fondly evokes the lost landscape of his youth in a small Yorkshire village, just after the First World War. Read more
Published 6 months ago by christopher hughes
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