In the heart of Wessex, 17-year-old Lewis Pike is the last of a tribe, refusing the lure of urban life, desperate to cling to his village birthright. But what does a village mean? Is it the microcosm of a wider dysfunction, as drunken poet Gerald tells him? Is it the imposition of alleged rituals like the corn dolly the "incomers" want to introduce into the harvest church service? Does it lie in the memories of his elderly grandmother? In the community forged by the illicit dogfights? Is it a family heritage, when the family is now a charity case, and Lewis can't hold down a job?
Christopher Hart's first novel takes on profound, important issues, and refuses to take easy options. At its best, his prose is taut and brutal, reminiscent of early Ted Hughes. In Lewis, he creates an increasingly tortured and brutal young man, teetering on the edge of melodrama, but at the same time can evoke without condescension the warm badinage of a Friday night at the village pub. The subplot seduction by Gerald's lusty wife Mary is less convincing, perhaps because the characters and the situation seem to belong to stock literary types. However, there should be no doubt that Hart is a writer well worth watching, and The Harvest a valuable and rare treatment of England's besieged rural life. --Alan Stewart
From the Author
'An exceptional first novel' The Sunday Times 'Christopher Hart has produced a brilliant, unsentimental, and frequently devastating requiem to a vanishing part of England' Metro North East