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Customer Review

40 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The newcomers were punished unjustly because of our men's deceit and silence, and now the smaller one is dead", 3 Mar. 2013
This review is from: Harvest (Hardcover)
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In this short, though poetic and deeply resonant book, Crace delivers a deceptively simple story, yet one which is far darker and more complex than a straightforward elegy for a now lost way of English life. Set in an unnamed agricultural village, at an unstated point in time, this is ostensibly a nostalgic portrait of rural life at the point at which common land is being transformed by enclosure, and a subsistence life-style overtaken by capitalist farming for profit.

But the narrative, given to us by Walter Thirsk, himself an incomer to the village and one, somehow, still somewhat marginalised, refuses to stick to this agenda. The village, it turns out, was always a disturbing place: rather than a pastoral idyll, it is a place of violence, bloodshed, death and conspiratorial silence; a place where a lone woman can be hunted at night through the dark woods because she is fair game. And the villagers, with their serf-like existence, were never owners of the `common land' but are themselves completely dependent on the lord of the manor.

With its themes of displacement, economic and social progress, alienation, migration, power and identity (Walter frequently speaks through the `we' of the community rather than the `I' of the individual - ironically, given his own marginalised status) this is, on one level, a fable completely at home in the twenty-first century. On another level, it re-enacts the story of the garden of Eden - though the illusion of any kind of `golden world' is solidly resisted by the narrative.

Crace's prose is, typically, dense, resonant, mythic, allusive and yet also earthy and very material. This may pose as a nostalgic tale of a lost England - but the story is never as uncomplicated and unambiguous as that implies.

Recommended as a dense and very thoughtful read that defies easy categorisation.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 8 Mar 2013 19:35:16 GMT
Aren't we lucky to be first in line to read such a wonderful work. I just don't want to pick up another book for a moment, I am still with Walter, on the road...

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Mar 2013 21:17:55 GMT
Roman Clodia says:
Yes, I know what you mean - I had to read something very different after this as a palate cleanser.

I enjoyed your review too.

Posted on 30 Sep 2013 11:32:53 BDT
Jim Currie says:
That was a beautiful review .....Crace seems to be an obvious winner of this years Booker

Posted on 29 Oct 2013 19:12:59 GMT
This is a thoughtful and well written review, but I could have done without the gratuitous spoiler in the headline, which unfortunately caught my eye before I got to read the book.

In reply to an earlier post on 31 Oct 2013 11:07:54 GMT
Roman Clodia says:
I'm sorry, but this really isn't a book which is about plot and what happens next... I hope you enjoy it.

In reply to an earlier post on 31 Oct 2013 12:36:04 GMT
I have read the book and enjoyed it, but that enjoyment was lessened by knowing which character would die half way through.
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