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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New talent alert
I first came across Horatio Clare's writing in magazines and mentally bookmarked the name, not that it's one you're likely to forget. He's published some trvael writing, on Morocco, I think, but this is is his first book, a sort of novelised memoir of his parents' divorce. It's set partly in London, his father's domain, but mostly on a...
Published on 25 Jan 2006

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Not really my kind of book
I was recommended this by someone who likes lots of detailed descriptions, and who enjoys biographies. I found it rather dull, but then I prefer human interest stories and am not so keen on biographies in general.

However, it was very well-written – the account of a couple (parents of the author) who bought a farm in Wales, and the many struggles they had...
Published 4 months ago by Sue


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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New talent alert, 25 Jan 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: Running for the Hills (Hardcover)
I first came across Horatio Clare's writing in magazines and mentally bookmarked the name, not that it's one you're likely to forget. He's published some trvael writing, on Morocco, I think, but this is is his first book, a sort of novelised memoir of his parents' divorce. It's set partly in London, his father's domain, but mostly on a Welsh hill farm. His parents acquired it as a retreat from London, but it soon becomes clear that his mother's investment in it is of diferent kind from his father's. A romantic of the full-flavour variety there's an irresistible pull to her attachement to the country and the hard life it obliges from those who settle there, even harder if you're a London literary type with two blonde haired little boys called Horatio and Alexander (funny scene in the primary school where they have to announce their names to an incredulous room of Hywels and Sioneds). And what of her husband, who has to earn a living, and for whom it seems the wild hill life is a colourful backdrop rather than home? As she and her boys are drawn into a beautiful and wild life there we too are drawn in, captivated by marvellous nature writing, by their risk-taking, by the remoteness of their locale and most movingly by the wrenching of their father from the picture. There's a heartbreaking scene when the young Horatio, on furlough in London, realises his father has finally gone. How do boys grow up without a father on the scene? What does a wild place do to the imaginations of children? What kind of enchantments belong to what kind of places?
I loved this book. It has all the virtues (and some of the vices - overwriting calsm down as the narrative proceeds) of a first novel from an exciting new writer.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Running for the Hills, 24 Feb 2007
By 
K. M. Harrison "Kate Harrison" (Lincolnshire, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Running for the Hills: A Family Story (Paperback)
I heard 'snippets' of this while on the road in my job when it was featured in a recent Book of the Week on Radio 4 and I instantly struck by its charm - so I bought the book.

Well I've just finished it & I honestly think it's one of the most enjoyable reading experiences I've had in a very long time. It tells the story of Horatio's parents decision to leave London & set up home in a very remote Welsh hillside sheep farm.

It is really the story of a remarkable woman Jenny, (Horatio Clare's mother), who is completely and passionately obsessed with her desire to suceed in the toughest of environments, doing a job traditionally the domaine of men who have the benefit of years of family history & experience.

Jenny & her new husband, Robert arrive, virtual novices and throw themselves into the challenge of several lifetimes trying to keep themselves & their stock alive.

The challenges leave the couple no time for leisure or life as a 'couple' and the marriage inevitably fails. Robert returns to his life in London, leaving Jenny to continue farming alone, helped by her two young sons and an ageing neighbour.

It is partly the story of the unrelenting harshness of the hardest of farming environments, made utterly enchanting due to Jenny's absolute love of her animals and nature and her dedication to the task, which is also to give her boys a magical childhood.

The story is told by Horatio Clare who has a delicate touch - the story is his, but it is told in a objective way which makes you forget it is his life and mother he is describing. His ability to appreciate the beauty and convey it so wonderfully is a constant testament to his mother's passion and enthusiasm which never wanes, no matter how awful life becomes for them at times. You want to read & reread whole chapters, so beautiful is the writing.

If I were an English teacher, I would be using this book to encourage and inspire children to understand the beauty and power of words and nature.

Though Jenny eventually and reluctantly leaves the farm, she does so having achieved her mission; Horatio leaves you in no doubt that he and his brother have been blessed with the most passionate and inspiring of upbringings a child could ever have.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars lyrical account of a childhood, 15 April 2008
This review is from: Running for the Hills: A Family Story (Paperback)
I almost didn't bother reviewing Running for the Hills, as I assumed it would have a least 100 5 star reviews and wouldn't need my contribution, so was surprised to see several one star reviews. If you read this book solely for the action, then it's going to disapopint. And yes, sheep feature frequently (but as it's set on a hill farm and not in outer space you might have guessed this from the start). But this book doesn't enchant for the intricacies of plotting or cliff-hanger action, but for the sheer quality of the prose. I must admit to a few qualms when Clare fictionalised his parents' relationship, writing in a memoir about events that took place before he wasn't born, but it's so beautifully written that you are absorbed into the sweep of the narrative and the qualms are forgotten. I also liked the overall tone - quite the opposite of misery lit - he obviously has great affection for his parents while clearly seeing their faults. Such a change from the bitterness of Bad Blood, to give another example of literary memoir. Overall, a most enjoyable read, and I'm looking forward to his next one.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful written memoir - unputdownable, 29 Mar 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: Running for the Hills (Hardcover)
Despite a friend's strong recommendation, I couldn't see how I'd enjoy a boy's memories of ill sheep, poverty, and a dilapidated farm in South Wales. How wrong I was. Horatio Clare's story is candid, heartbreaking and spell-binding. At times I even laughed out loud; (this book must be read for the quark story alone). Running For The Hills will stay with you long after you've finished the final pages. Just wonderful.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wild, and beautiful and wonderful., 20 Mar 2006
By 
Charliecat (Oxfordshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Running for the Hills (Hardcover)
I've just this minute finished reading this memoir and I had to write a review to say how much I enjoyed it. It is a memoir about Horatio Clare's mother and father and their hill farm in rural Wales. It charts his parents love and marriage and their separation taken from his parents diaries and letters and his own memory. At the fore is his mother, Jenny whose policy Live and Let Live allows such beauty to run wild over the dilapidated old house and the farm. She is a strong and passionate woman whose love for nature and animals (espcially her beloved sheep) makes the old farm a magical place for her two sons to grow up in and also inspires them. You can clearly see this in the authors writing, his love of the farm and his admiration for his mother. A very charming and beautiful book which gets better and better the more you read.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great stuff!, 15 July 2007
By 
This review is from: Running for the Hills: A Family Story (Paperback)
Just beautiful! An unusual, moving, sometimes very funny first book which held me from first page to last - I keep recommending it to friends who wonder why I'm so enthusiastic about something which seems to be all about wild Wales and childhood with divorce and disaster thrown in. But they love it! I think anyone who likes good writing will like this. Ignore the plonker below - seems to have read a different book...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book, 14 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Running for the Hills: A Family Story (Paperback)
a wonderful story of the constant struggle of farmer with nature. Great descriptions of the Welsh countryside and swiftly changing weather patterns.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Running for the Hills., 4 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Running for the Hills: A Family Story (Paperback)
I love this book as it is so brings his childhood to life. It portrays a love of the Brecon Beacons in all seasons as he grew up. It was like a breath of fresh air. I would recommend this to anyone as it is a warm and a loving tribute to a sometimes very hard life. Every page was a revelation to his family and the ties that bind him to Wales. It is book I treasue.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, 1 July 2013
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It is Horatio Clare's observation of nature that makes this book so delightful and the portrayal of is family is intriguing .
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful, heart-breaking memoir, 18 Jun 2013
By 
A. Craig "Amanda Craig" (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Running for the Hills: A Family Story (Paperback)
Like some other reviewers here, I bought Horatio Clare's memoir after reading some of his writing in newspapers/radio and finding it unusually well-written. I'm so glad I did, because Running For the Hills is an exceptional piece of work.

It recounts the author's harsh but idyllic childhood in the Black Mountains, where his parents, and then just his mother Jenny, farmed. Clare evokes the remoteness and beauty of "really faraway Wales" in prose which never tips over into lushness or affectation. He makes you see and feel the fungus on trees, the birds, the damp, the heroism, the neighbours and the sheep. It really is like a cross between Dylan Thomas and Ted Hughes ion its strong sens of the "particular magic" of a place, but woven into it is also a child's eye view of his parents' disintegrating marriage and a moving account of his mother's formidable courage. It would make a very good film, not least because it's in some ways a British Jean de Florette in parts.
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Running for the Hills: A Family Story
Running for the Hills: A Family Story by Horatio Clare (Paperback - 30 Nov 2006)
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