FREE Delivery in the UK on orders with at least £10 of books.
Only 1 left in stock (more on the way).
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
Two Cows and a Vanful of ... has been added to your Basket
FREE Delivery on orders over £10.
Used: Very Good | Details
Sold by the book house
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: This item will be picked, packed and shipped by Amazon and is eligible for free delivery within the UK
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Two Cows and a Vanful of Smoke Paperback – 29 Mar 2012

4.0 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

See all formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price
New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
Paperback
"Please retry"
£7.99
£0.01 £0.01
Note: This item is eligible for click and collect. Details
Pick up your parcel at a time and place that suits you.
  • Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
  • Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
How to order to an Amazon Pickup Location?
  1. Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
  2. Dispatch to this address when you check out
Learn more
£7.99 FREE Delivery in the UK on orders with at least £10 of books. Only 1 left in stock (more on the way). Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover

Special Offers and Product Promotions

Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.




Product details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Alma Books Ltd (29 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846881773
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846881770
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 12.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 572,641 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'One of the most distinctive voices in modern British fiction.' -- Evening Standard

'A sharp stylist.' -- Sunday Telegraph

'Vividly, defiantly realistic at times, luridly surreal at others, his writing's ability to compound striking metaphors of the abstract with a graphic physicality has won him a deserved following.' -- The Times Literary Supplement

'At a time of growing urbanism and reductive social interaction, this delightful novel extols the simple virtues of landscape and love, a sentiment that is as important now as it was when Benson first became a storyteller. Perhaps even more so.' -- Independent on Sunday

'An adventure story written in Benson s distinctive, flourish-filled style and suffused with his deep and abiding love of the West Country.' -- Daily Mail

'A coming of age novel that turns the plot of a thriller into a lyrical celebration of the mysterious and enchanting power of the natural world.' -- The Times Literary Supplement

'A haunting tale of love, clairvoyance and cannabis.' -- The Guardian

'Peter Benson writes like an angel fuelled by inspirational quantities of organic Somerset cider. Get drunk on this fine novel.' --The Regency Book Club

'a coming of age novel that turns the plot of a thriller into a lyrical celebration of the mysterious and enchanting power of the natural world' --The Times Literary Supplement

'At a time of growing urbanism and reductive social interaction, this delightful novel extols the simple virtues of landscape and love, a sentiment that is as important now as it was when Benson first became a storyteller. Perhaps even more so.' --Independent on Sunday

'a coming of age novel that turns the plot of a thriller into a lyrical celebration of the mysterious and enchanting power of the natural world' --The Times Literary Supplement

'At a time of growing urbanism and reductive social interaction, this delightful novel extols the simple virtues of landscape and love, a sentiment that is as important now as it was when Benson first became a storyteller. Perhaps even more so.' --Independent on Sunday

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, and three more novels: Odo's Hanging, Riptide and A Private Moon. He has also published short stories, screenplays and poetry, and his work has been adapted for TV and radio and translated into many languages. He lives in Exeter with his wife.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Peter Benson is one of the finest writers of his generation, and Two Cows and a Vanful of Smoke is fresh evidence of his talent.
Set in the legendary summer of 1976, and against the enchanting landscape of Somerset, it tells the story of Elliott, a young jobbing labourer who is drawn by his feckless mate into trying to dispose of a hoard of dope plants which the two came across in a hidden polytunnel. And what follows is a manic flight across the parched countryside from the owners of the stash, a tender love affair with a hippy girl, and a general coming-to-terms for Elliott with his own dreams and failings.
For anyone familiar with Benson's earlier work, Two Cows... ranks alongside The Other Occupant, Odo's Hanging, and Riptide as his very best, and it looks sure to become one of the most beguiling reads of 2011.
Heartily recommended.

Paul Sayer - author of the Whitbread-winning novel, The Comforts of Madness.
Comment 49 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
From the brief synopsis I'd been given, I was expecting the sort of caper Guy Ritchie would turn into a film which convinced no-one. What I actually got was an astonishing love letter to the countryside, poetic and lyrical, and funny and frightening in equal parts. Like the other reviewer, I had to finish the book in a single sitting, then come here and rave about it, then go and buy everything else Peter Benson has written. You should too.
Comment 21 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Kindle Edition
I was expecting a bit of a knockabout romp, but got something much better.

I love the author's decidedly idiosyncratic use of metaphor, and his ability to inspire emotion, while maintaining a good narrative pace.

I couldn't put it down (to the extent that work today was a nightmare of fatigue..)
and now I'm going to see if Peter Benson has any other delights in store.
Comment 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
The title of this novel both echoes the film Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and implies a fair sprinkling of stoner comedy. It has no real connection to either and, on the whole, this is a good thing. This book is a coming of age novel and a paean to the passing of the culture of rural England placed within the context of a crime thriller. It's an odd blend but quite effective.

Our narrator, Elliot, and his volatile best friend Spike find their rural idyll in Somerset -during the blazing summer of 1976- disturbed by sinister events. Strangers from Bristol import crime and city morality to the little village of Ashbrittle and through no fault of his own, Elliot becomes caught up in a vicious underworld of drugs, corrupt police and violence. What follows is Elliot's attempt to extricate himself and Spike from this unwelcome intrusion whilst struggling with impending adulthood.

The actual plot is relatively formulaic. The familiar beats of the criminal investigation provide the framework for a fairly predictable thriller. What elevates this novel are the bits in between; the book is really about rural life at a particular moment in the past when centuries of tradition began to hurtle headfirst into the modern world. Folk law and agriculture are placed at odds with the cynical brutality of present-day culture.

This theme keeps emerging throughout the book; the backward looking hippies contrasted by the drug abusing collective that surrounds Spike; the spirituality of Elliot and his mother versus the pragmatism of his father and sister; and the casual violence of drug dealers opposing the regretful violence of the aging World War II generation.
Read more ›
2 Comments 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this engaging story for its off-beat story and interesting characters but what lifted it from just 'a good read' was the sense of place. I am not familiar with the rural area where the story was set but the writer's obvious connection with and love for the countryside added a richness to this light and pleasant tale.
Comment 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a lovely book, half coming-of-age story, half love letter to rural England. The places come alive through Benson's pen; the central character Elliot will have many smiling and nodding along and noting similarities to themselves. Only towards the end with its possibly overdone diversion into police corruption did I find it less-than-perfect. Otherwise, the three hours I spend in this novel's company were a complete joy.
Comment One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was my first introduction to the author, Peter Benson. I shall eagerly seek out more of his books if they are of a similar high standard as this one.

What an enthralling story!!! What I enjoyed so much about it, was the plausability of it all within the eccentricty of the tale! It is just the type of crazy run of events that one small lie can lead to. It covered much of the activities of our younger generation and their attitudes, even today, altho it was set in the 70's in the British countryside. The falsely placed loyalties and the innocence of some! Of how sometimes, the most well intentioned, innocent, hard working, loyal person can find themselves in the midst of trouble!

Thoroughly enjoyable!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am looking at a picture. It is so detailed, it exceeds the quality of the finest photograph. Not only can I see this picture, but I can smell it too; I can hear it, touch it and taste it. This picture fills my senses and as I gaze upon it I become totally absorbed in it and I am transported from my urban jungle to the place it represents - a small part of the West Country close to the Somerset Devon border. It is so powerful I am no longer aware of the concrete madness that surrounds me, instead I am in a rural oasis I recall from many, many years ago.

This picture has not been created with paint and brush though; this picture has been created by the words of Peter Benson in his book "Two Cows and a Vanful of Smoke". Using words alone, Peter takes you not only into the countryside of the Somerset Devon border, but also into the minds of the people who live there; and in particular the mind of the main character, Elliot.

The story of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde, is a simple one that extends to over 200 pages through Wilde's exquisite descriptions of the characters' thoughts and feelings as he luxuriates in the use of language to bring to life the period, setting and life of the people that the story revolves around. Peter Benson has achieved the same thing in this book. It is a simple story but one that has been crafted with such care and expertise. It is different to any book by a living author I have read.

I never read a book twice. Until now. I got lost in this book, I loved it, I will read it again.
Comment One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews


Look for similar items by category


Feedback