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A new novel by British author Tim Pears is always a welcome event. Landed follows the fortunes of Owen Ithell who as a young boy is sent by his feckless mother to live with his grand-parents on a farm in the Welsh Hills. This story of Owen's childhood is interleaved with a more recent account from Owen's life, for as an adult he has a terrible car accident in which his daughter is killed and Owen himself loses an arm.

We read of Owen's youth with his ancient grandfather, a man of few words, a man of the hills, who allows his grandson to follow him around and learn the skills of ferreting, shepherding and butchering, giving him a life-long desire to get back to the land and be self-sufficient.

After the accident, and back in his adult life, Owen tries his hardest to adapt to the loss of his child and his limb, but slowly things begin to fall apart, with joblessness and depression leading to legal separation from his family. On the way we read of the torment of "phantom limb pain" and the problems of prosthetic appliances, none of which quite do the job (Pears has done his research here!).

Pears breaks up this rather bleak text with various documents from Owen's progress. We see a police accident report describing the scene of the tragedy, complete with photographs. We see a transcript of a paper given to an occupational therapy forum on phantom limb pain, based on Owen's experience as a patient. We get to read a lengthy article Owen posts on an Internet fathers' right forum about the breakdown of his marriage. I quite enjoyed reading these. They break up the text but also fill out the picture of Owen and make readers feel more involved with his character.

The scene is now set for the second half of the book, in which Tim abducts his two younger children, Josh and Holly from school in Birmingham and begins a journey to the hillside in Wales where life was free of all the encumbrances of later life. I won't go beyond the content of the cover description and risk spoiling the story for others. I think I can safely say however, that it is at this point that the clues being to emerge to suggest that things are not quite what they seem.

Let me just say that the book makes perfect sense when taken as a whole. The knowledge you get at the end is revelatory, but should not perhaps have been totally unexpected. It even makes the whole book come together and for this reader at least made him feel that this had been a very satisfying read. This is a book which will linger in the memory, and if ever there was a book for book groups, then this is it - the possibilities for discussion are limitless, bringing in themes of childhood influences on adulthood, coping with loss, myth and reality, guilt and innocence and many more. A book to read and re-read I think and a fine addition to my Tim Pears collection.
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on 13 April 2010
Brilliant as for being in true touch with nature and hill farming as well as for a fascinating main character. Lots of extraordinary twists and turns.

If this was based on a real life where would truth turn into fiction/dreams/hallucinations? Like others I don't know the answers and no doubt will continue to wonder even when I read it again.
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on 30 April 2013
Despite Tim Pears's enviable ability to create such vivid protagonists as this novel's Owen Ithell, the main character of this wonderfully written and superbly crafted novel is nature - both in tooth and claw and in her more simpering, misty guise. Following a horrific car accident, Owen abducts his two children and takes them on a picaresque journey - sleeping in the open air and avoiding so-called civilisation, furtively crossing fields like nervous, backward-glancing foxes and hugging the cover of hedgerows - back to the land of his own childhood, namely the countryside around the Welsh borders where, as a child, he spent many happy and instructive summers on his grandfather's farm. These scenes are brilliantly evoked and well-observed, but happily devoid of any tweeness; as Pears notes, the sheep farmer's lot is "a manky, maggotty battle against disease", and there are times when both Owen and his grandfather reminded me strongly of R.S. Thomas's hill farmers. The ending is inevitable and extremely poignant - Owen being one of those shabby heroes at whom Pears excels - but this is a far from gloomy book. Yes, there is humour here, a shy thread of it running through the novel, and is at its most surreal when Owen pushes a fat man in a wheelbarrow while Hawkwind's classic seventies single, "Silver Machine" plays in his head. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, as I do all of Pears's work, but this one in particular will undergo several more readings. If the future, despite all current indications, does turn out to contain people who thrive on reading great literature, then Pears's novels, epecially "Landed", will surely be hailed as classics.
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on 3 September 2010
The very moving account of how a freak car accident results in the destruction of a father's relationship with his wife and children, and ultimately in the loss of everything he holds dear. Through lyrical flashbacks into rural moments from the Welsh childhood of the main protagonist (Owen), Pears creates a multi-faceted character with whom the reader empathizes more and more as his life is shattered. As the novel progresses, Owen's fragility and the inevitable conclusion of this tragic tale become evermore clear to everyone but himself. The "journey" Owen undertakes to return with his children to his beloved Welsh countryside begins with hope, but slowly descends into bizarre unreality. In the closing chapters of the novel, the true and impossibly sad nature of Owen's "journey" is revealed, bringing floods of tears to the eyes of this reader.

The beauty and sadness of this novel will stay with me. Tim Pears' writing is exquisite, especially in his poetic descriptions of life on the land at Owen's grandfather's farm. I will certainly continue to reflect on the themes highlighted here: the ephemeral nature of happiness and the plight of fathers when families break down in these modern times. Overall this novel is a thing of bleakness and beauty: one longs so much to make things right for Owen - but alas this is never to be.
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on 24 March 2010
I could not wait to read this book, if his other books are anything to go by (except for 'A Revolution of the Sun', which was thoroughly disappointing). Quite simply one of the best books I have ever read. It has genuinely left a deep impression on my mind and find myself thinking about its themes during my day to day existence. You'll find yourself asking all sorts of questions, ones that can never really be answered. I think 'Landed' will get many more five star reviews!
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on 25 May 2010
Having read all of Tim Pears' previous books it's fair to say that I'm a fan but he really has created something truly unique and beautiful in `Landed'. Unlike some reviewers I felt it was perfectly clear what is going on in the second half of the book, especially when you arrive at the graceful and haunting final paragraphs. Deeply moving, artfully written - Tim Pears continues to reinvent himself with every story he creates. An unmitigated joy.
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on 12 December 2015
A holiday charity shop buy which I started reading in the station cafe at Dungeness as rain pelted down outside. Dungeness itself is a surreal place, rather appropriate for this novel which is as much an experience as a story. I have not read any of the author's other books and do not know anyone else who has read this one, so I felt the need to read the reviews. I was relieved that other readers were confused by the time they reached the end of the book, but I enjoyed the dream like experience of being taken on a journey attached to the land and yet not....
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I enjoyed the first part of this novel, and the writing is beautiful (hence the 3 stars), but either the story is more complicated or I am less intelligent than either of us seems, because in the end, I wasn't at all sure what was happening. I relised - as a previous reviewer wrote - that 'all was not as it seemed' in the second half of the book, but if you asked me to tell you what happened at the end of the novel, I'd be hard put to it to explain, and I was left feeling very frustrated. If anyone who has read the novel reads this, I'd be grateful for a bit of enlightenment!
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on 22 July 2013
not so to my taste but it takes allsorts to form an interesting book reading group thank you for having so many available
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on 2 January 2015
I absolutely loved In the Place of Fallen Leaves so I bought this, as it had 8 good reviews.

While I acknowledge it was well written, I'm afraid I couldn't finish this book. I enjoyed part 1, particularly the passages about Owen as a young boy on his grandparents' farm. However, part 2 I found simply unreadable because of the unremitting painful subject matter. The bleak, hopeless journey of the despondent, tragic alcoholic father and the two innocent, disoriented children. When I realised the nature of the journey, I knew that I wouldn't be able to stop crying for long enough to actually read it.

The title of part 2 is 'Abandonment' and I'm afraid I had to abandon this book as I simply couldn't tolerate this level of sadness. Unlike The Road, there was not even a glimmer of hope or redemption.
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