Customer Reviews


20 Reviews
5 star:
 (13)
4 star:
 (3)
3 star:
 (3)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars original and beautiful
This book deals with the familair theme of childhood, but in such an original way that it really makes one even look at their own childhood years in a new light. The characters are brilliantly deep and gentle, and the reader cannot help but marvel at them. The strange thing is that everything in the book seems so rare, yet the author is writing about relatively...
Published on 11 May 1999

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars slow to start
I very much agree with another review of this novel, in that it is hard to believe that it is the 1980s and not the 1940s. This aside it is a very well written and engaging novel. It does take some time to get into it since it's a story of waiting and transition.
Published on 1 Aug 2009 by C. flynn


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars original and beautiful, 11 May 1999
By A Customer
This book deals with the familair theme of childhood, but in such an original way that it really makes one even look at their own childhood years in a new light. The characters are brilliantly deep and gentle, and the reader cannot help but marvel at them. The strange thing is that everything in the book seems so rare, yet the author is writing about relatively ordinary matters; nothing new, but in such a different and enchanting way you can't help reading on and on, until the end. This is the first book in such a long time that I have taken great care to read word by word, virtually worried of missing even one adjective. Every single word has such an important function for the plot and general feel. There are no uneccesary sentences, everywhere there are traces of a great talent. Nothing is exaggerated or understated; there are no cliche paragraphs that one finds even in the best of childhood memories. I haven't read a book like this in ages.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In a Place of Heat, 27 April 2011
By 
J C E Hitchcock (Tunbridge Wells, Kent, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
"In the Place of Fallen Leaves" is set in a small Devon village during the summer and autumn of 1984. Although it is a work of fiction, it bears little resemblance to the traditional novel, lacking any strongly defined plotline. It is told in the first person and bears a greater resemblance to an autobiographical memoir of childhood, although the events described in it are narrated not by the author himself but by an invented character, thirteen-year-old Alison Freemantle.

Tim Pears takes some liberties with the background to his story, describing 1984 as the hottest and driest in year in living memory. In fact, although the spring and summer of that year were indeed unusually warm and dry, if not quite as hot as the summer of 1976, the autumn, especially September and October when most of the book takes place, was unusually wet. Nevertheless, the countryside described here is a place of fierce heat, baked and parched dry by the sun, a place of lassitude, lethargy and idleness. That idleness is sometimes enforced- when the normal time comes for Alison and the other children to return to school they are unable to do so because of a teachers' strike.

Unlike some writers about English rural life, Pears does not concentrate on descriptions of nature and the beauties of the countryside. He is more interested in human life and concentrates more on descriptions of people and how they act, as seen through Alison's eyes. Like most of the villagers, Alison's family are farmers, and many of her reminiscences are of them. The most tragic member of the family is her father, who has sunk into a state of near imbecility, his mind and memory rotted by alcoholism. As a result responsibility for running the farm has devolved upon Alison's stoical if harassed mother and her two older brothers, Ian and Tom. Alison also has an older sister, Pamela, but she is a semi-detached member of the family, spending all day working in Exeter and interested in little except her boyfriends.

Ian and Tom are very different from one another. Ian is something of an intellectual who would doubtless be happier doing something other than farming, an occupation into which he has been forced by family tradition. He is also an insomniac who sits up all night working on chess problems. (It is only rarely that he actually plays a game of chess, due to a lack of opponents of sufficient calibre in the area). Tom is quiet and reserved, more at home with animals than with people. The story of his love-affair with Susanna, the daughter of wealthy incomers to the village, is one of the funniest (and, at times, one of the saddest) episodes in the book. The two remaining members of the family are Alison's elderly paternal grandparents who entertain her with memories of the valley in earlier days.

A number of other characters play important roles in the book. Johnathan, the son of a local aristocratic landowner, is a strange, bookish boy and the nearest thing Alison has to a boyfriend. Douglas Westcott, an eccentric farmer and slaughterer, is obsessed by maps. And then there is the village Rector, a divorcee living alone in a huge, rambling house, desperately trying to bring Christianity to his sceptical, semi-pagan flock.

In many ways the book reminds me of Laurie Lee's "Cider with Rosie", another memoir of life in a West Country valley. Lee's book was of course, at least ostensibly, a work of autobiography rather than fiction, and was set in the 1920s rather than the 1980s, but Pears's book would suggest that despite the coming of modern inventions such as cars and televisions, rural England had not changed all that much in the intervening six decades. Certainly, Pears's Devon valley seems just as remote and cut off from the outside world as Lee's Gloucestershire one, and its inhabitants just as independent and suspicious of outsiders.

I would not rank this book quite as highly as Lee's, which possesses a greater variety of incident and moves along more fluently; "In the Place of Fallen Leaves" can occasionally seem static and repetitive. It is, nevertheless, an impressive first novel, particularly in the author's power to create well-defined characters and in describing the incidents which befall them, frequently amusing, and yet also sometimes tragic.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a beautiful novel, 22 Jan 1999
By A Customer
Please read this book. Because of it's lyrical language you'll think you're reading something gentle and subtle, until it makes you weep uncontrollably or guffaw at the antics of these unique, breathing characters. Then you find you are actually reading something extremely potent.The best books, I believe, are the ones that make the ordinary extraordinary. Tim Pears does this better than too many of the authors I've read in recent years.I loved this book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars slow to start, 1 Aug 2009
By 
C. flynn "book fiend" (belfast, northern ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: In the Place of Fallen Leaves (Paperback)
I very much agree with another review of this novel, in that it is hard to believe that it is the 1980s and not the 1940s. This aside it is a very well written and engaging novel. It does take some time to get into it since it's a story of waiting and transition.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nostalgic romance of country life and growing up, 8 Feb 2009
By 
B. Barford (Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: In the Place of Fallen Leaves (Paperback)
This book is set in Devon in the 70's - a young girl reaching maturity. Because it was set very close to where I live, the setting was recognisable and the social life reminiscent of its time. The characters were wonderful and captivating but I found the lack of plot rather tiresome making it a 'slow' read. However as a piece of fine writing it is a great example.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Sun-Drenched, 19 July 2014
This review is from: In the Place of Fallen Leaves (Paperback)
Alison is a young teenager growing up on a farm in a tiny, isolated Devon village. In an exhausting, relentlessly hot summer of 1984, Alison starts the transition towards adulthood. Clever and independent, she is surrounded by a loving family. And like all families, their eccentricities are intensified by familiarity. She is also very close to some of the key characters in the village, the Rector, Granny Simms and Spanish Maria.

The novel is structured as a series of fragments of story, anecdote and memory, building a tapestry describing Alison's world. Some of these are sad, some extraordinary, some funny.

This is a powerful story of a strong, isolated rural community and the strong ties and relationships at their heart. Very well written, and will stand the test of time.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful stuff, 11 Jun 2007
By 
Quark (South Croydon, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: In the Place of Fallen Leaves (Paperback)
Nothing happens in this novel; but it happens beautifully. Populated with eccentrics, and sweltering in the hot summer of 1984 - when the teachers in Alison's school go on strike for weeks - this is a very English take on magic realism; understated, with shifts of understanding and gradual changes rather than sudden drama. At first, it reads like another of those 'coming of age' novels that revolve around some shocking revelation or terrible incident. But the deeper into the novel you go, you realise there probably isn't anything quite so crass as its centre. Instead, there's some really fine lyrical prose, driven by strange, but strangely believable characters, and with a pungent sense of place.

Despite discernible influences such as Marquez, and highly familiar aspects (hot English summer; young girl wrestling with adolescence), there's nothing else quite like this highly original and beautifully written novel. If this had been published in 1984 instead of set then, Channel Four would have made an affecting, offbeat drama out of it. As it is, we'll have to make do with Pears' stunning prose.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extended poetic masterpiece ..., 29 Nov 1998
By A Customer
Tim Pears has produced a sigh of joy in his masterly control of time and tone. We are not astonished to find that the assured tones of the narrator belong to a 10-year old girl - nor that these poetic reminiscences are in fact closer to our time than the telling lets us believe. What Pears does with time is imaginative, and takes us to a "great now of yesterday" with little feeling that we have been taken back in time - so skilfully has Pears's prose,and art, effaced linear time at all. One more pleat, one more fold has been opened to our view, and we wonder again at the power of the novel to reveal afresh, a wonder in a way of seeing - Pears leaves the novel, and us, with new life.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good to read aloud at bedtime, 13 Jun 2000
By A Customer
A gentle, lyrical work, perhaps a little precious on occasions. Set in rural Devonshire in the recent past - and I can remember the political background and the hot weather. A very good bedtime book and one which reads well aloud.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely!, 21 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: In the Place of Fallen Leaves (Paperback)
Wonderful description of deepest Devon where real human values existed, seen through the eyes of an adolescent girl in the period when her future was being systematically destroyed by the Thatcher government. Her innocence of the world outside of her village home and the importance of farm and community is brilliantly portrayed. I loved it!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

In the Place of Fallen Leaves
In the Place of Fallen Leaves by Tim Pears (Paperback - 18 July 2005)
7.83
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews