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Pollard [Paperback]

Laura Beatty
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
Price: £8.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

2 July 2009
To fifteen-year-old Anne the woods that lie beyond her house are a temporary refuge from her noisy, chaotic family, until one day she gathers her courage and steps into the woods, never to return. Slowly, she makes a new life for herself, learning to forage and to hunt, to build a house from the bounty of the woods and to listen to the voices of the trees. As she endures her first, terrible winter she develops the strength of character that will carry her through the dangers of her unconventional life and the bitter beauty of falling in love, but as the outside world encroaches on her secret existence Anne faces a terrible tragedy.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (2 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099516942
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099516941
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 278,413 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"A fierce and wonderful book ... This is just the sort of generous, provocative novel the Booker judges should cherish...Bewitching... despite its readability, Pollard is the precise opposite of escapist literature, because it gives the reader back the world" (Observer)

"Beatty has a wonderful ear for voice, especially the voices of children, and the characters she constructs through Anne's skewed perception are funny and heartbreaking by turns; but what is really impressive is how she weaves her human comedy with the most powerful nature writing... This novel heralds an exceptional talent'" (Guardian)

"Enchanting...Beatty is a writer of extraordinary power...alive to every nuance of behaviour" (Literary Review)

"This is a moving novel, delicate yet powerful, whose unusual heroine charms absolutely" (Economist)

"Most contemporary depictions of homelessness tend to home in on the urban, gritty aspect, conveying inner-city squalor. Laura Beatty's lyrical, pastoral Pollard admirably takes a different tack... Beatty writes about endurance with compassion and empathy. She fantastically conveys the elemental quality of Anne's life and the ways in which her strangeness makes relationships with other human beings much more fraught than her dealings with the harsh, beautiful woodland world" (Metro)

Book Description

Combining a remarkable understanding of the natural world with a gift for empathy, Pollard is an extraordinary first novel that marks the debut of an unforgettable writer.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning first novel 10 Aug 2009
I'm surprised this book hasn't received more fanfare as it is one of the finest I have read in a long time. The main character is not only an outcast from society, but, from a very young age, is an outcast from her entire family. As a teenager she finds refuge in the local wood, eventually settling there permanently. But she is not without human needs for love and companionship, and it is these fragile relationships that provide much of the poignancy of the book. The other subtext of the novel is the threatened existence of the wood itself as developers begin marching in to destroy it. It is lyrical and elegantly written--a book I plan to read again.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Haunting and hypnotic 5 Dec 2011
"Pollard" is the most unusual work of fiction that I've read for a long time.

It is the story of a misfit teenaged girl who runs off to live in the forest and, through her experiences, examines the relationship that humans have with nature. The writing is very evocative, almost poetic in parts, particularly in the sections where the "Chorus of Trees" takes over, where the wood becomes a character in its own right. In some ways, the book reminds me of "Brendon Chase" updated for modern times, with the evident sympathy that the author has for the natural world.

The main character Anne does not become a recluse and the human relationships that she craves add much poignancy to the story. Although Anne is an outsider, her need to love and be loved, in both a romantic and a maternal way has not been extinguished as she cuts herself off from normal society. The portrayal of the modern world as it encroaches on the forest is very effectively done.

I have to admit to finding the book slightly hard work in sections, where I felt that the writing got a little repetitive and obscure, but overall, this is a story with a haunting and hypnotic quality and an amazing sense of place.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerising 13 Mar 2013
I haven't quite finished reading this book, but it is so wonderful I can't wait to tell the world about it. It is profound, lyrical, enthralling, and makes all the other books I've read lately seem scratchy and clamorous.

The story slowly unfurls in the depths of a wood, following the turn of the seasons. The plot seems to put down roots into the reader and one is caught up in the life of a young outsider, Anne, as she finds ways to survive outside of, but still connected to, the norms of society. She is one of the most sensitive, engaging and thought-provoking characters I've met, and, like other reviewers, I continue to think of her when I'm going about my daily life.

This book raises so many questions - on a general level, but also forcing one to challenge ones own perceptions and ways of being. For me, those concerning homelessness and abnormality in particular.

It is astonishing to realise that this book has such a small profile, and sad to think that so many people are denied its insights and poetry. I count myself so lucky to have found it and consider it immediately to be in the list of my top 5 books.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good choice for a reading group read 24 Jan 2010
By lilysmum VINE VOICE
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My reading group chose this book on a recommendation from an English teacher (the spouse of one of the group) and we all liked it very much. It tells the story of Anne, who decides at the age of 15 (or thereabouts, we never find out for sure) to leave her family and her home and go and live in the woods. She battles the elements through the first winter, returning home sporadically, mostly to collect the things she needs to make her life easier. One such thing is a wheelbarrow (think about what typical 15 year old girls value most and it gives you an idea of how different Anne is to most teenage girls!)
Anne gradually makes a home for herself in the woods and fashions a routine for her life against the odds. However, as the novel goes on and Anne grows older, her relationships with others and the gradual encroachment of urban society on the woods threatens her peaceful existence.
We liked this book because of its lyrical passages and the writer's ability to take us into a natural world that we probably rarely think about. How much do we truly need to live our lives?
We found lots to discuss inside the pages of this book and lots to enjoy, though the book isn't an easy read at times.
If you enjoyed this book you might also like Poppy Shakespeare, which is another book with an unlikely female character at its centre.
We shall be looking out for other books by this writer.
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