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The Levels Paperback – 12 Apr 2012


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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Alma Books Ltd (12 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846881919
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846881916
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 361,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'A very apt and unillusioned sort of modern pastoral, blessed with the kind of narrative gift that's like perfect pitch' --The Guardian

'Funny and painful and beautifully done so that we recognise life with a gasp' --The Times

About the Author

Born in 1956, Peter Benson was educated in Ramsgate, Canterbury and Exeter. His first novel, The Levels, won the Guardian Fiction Prize. This was followed by A Lesser Dependency, winner of the Encore award, The Other Occupant, which was awarded the Somerset Maugham Award. He has also published short stories, screenplays and poetry, some adapted for TV, radio and many translated into other languages.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By J C E Hitchcock on 25 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback
This novel is set in the Somerset levels, a sparsely-populated, low-lying area of wetlands in South-West England. The date is probably the 1960s and 1970s. It is a coming-of-age story, told in the first person, about the childhood and teenage years of the hero, Billy, especially his first love affair. Apart from farming, one of the few industries native to the area is basket-making, an activity made possible by the fact that the damp conditions are ideal for willow-trees, and it is willow twigs which are the basket-maker's raw material. After leaving school Billy himself becomes an apprentice basket-maker, not from any great love of the craft but because his father is himself a basket-maker who can teach him the skills of the trade and because of a lack of other employment opportunities in the area. The only alternative, becoming a farm labourer like his boyhood friend Dick, does not appeal to him.

Billy's first love is Muriel, a girl from a well-to-do middle-class family, originally from London, who moves into the local manor house with her Bohemian artist mother Anne. (Muriel's parents appear to be divorced; her father does not appear in the story). The two meet soon after Muriel arrives in the area and quickly become first friends, then lovers, and they spend an idyllic summer together. When Muriel has to leave to go to college in the autumn, however, Billy realises that she always meant more to him than he did to her.

The story of Billy and Muriel is a commonplace one; there are probably thousands, if not millions, of similar romances going on somewhere in the world every day. So why (to borrow the question rhetorically asked by David Essex in his song "A Winter's Tale") should the world take notice of one more love that's failed?
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By sonrisa on 5 Jun. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I just fell in love with the way this book and his others are written.Original ,funny sad and with an astute eye to the people and the countryside.. truly a wonderful read
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Karen Louise on 17 Sept. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having read "Riptide", I had to see if the author could still keep my interest about an era which was still partly in the hippy state, and partly in the grown up 80's. Again, a beautifully written book especially for those who enjoyed the lifestyle of the 70' and 80's. His descriptive writing hits the nail on the head. Haunting, and thought provoking,a book in which you can empathise with his characters.
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By tangoo on 3 Mar. 2013
Format: Paperback
I bought this book because my friends son designed the cover,a murmuring of starlings on the Somerset levels, which I live nearby. This is a beautifully written story, tender, humorous and with descriptions that bring the countryside to life. I am not easy to please when it comes to literature, and I would Definitley say that this book is literature! I would even say that this story has elements of Thomas Hardy about it . An excellent read. Why aren't books like this considered for the Booker instead of the commercial rubbish that usually wins!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The writing is beautiful - lyrical almost - and the narrative captures the fleeting feel of 'that summer'. We've all had one - where love finds us for the first time, then loses us - and this captures it perfectly within the realm of a rural England that is rarely seen in print these days but still is very much alive.
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