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In a Land of Plenty Hardcover – 1 Mar 1998

3.9 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 1 Mar 1998
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Picador USA (Mar. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312181124
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312181123
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 4.2 x 21.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,182,781 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"'A big book with a big heart. Pears is an unashamedly moving writer and this marvellous book will reduce many to tears' Punch"

"'His genius in telling a story...An operatic novel full of death, sex, brothers, sisters, cousins and throbbing hearts' Daily Telegraph"

"'Astonishing and amibitious...Each detail is resonant, and the author's realism and compassion irradiates the writing. A story about people - us - and their context, written with authority and unshowy grace. Early nineteenth-century France had Balzac, we have Pears to trace our fortunes and follies' The Times"

"'Impossible to resist. I could go on about how wonderful it is, but read it for yourself' Time Out"

"'He's an astonishing novelist, as interested in small domestic detail as in the wider implications of human relationships. A long book, yes, but so satisfying that I wished it even longer'
Good Housekeeping" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

A rich and engrossing epic of English life from the author of Landed --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Not sure what to make of this one at all. A family saga running from the 50s to the 90s charting the lives and times of the Freeman family, this book is easy to admire but difficult to like.
Pears does a good job of balancing the historical sweep with the individual stories, and I certainly believed in and became involved with the characters. However, the fate of James Freeman, who is the nearest thing the book has to a main character, is so cruel and sad that the book leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. I'm not giving anything away here, the books starts with a 'flash forward' that makes it clear he doesn't have a happy end. Which means you read the whole book with a growing sense of foreboding.
This is a very serious book which takes itself very seriously. There is little if any humour here. It is also seems to me a very pessimistic book it terms of its view of life. Perhaps that is a reflection of the state of Britain in the mid 1990s.
I don't regret reading it (and it was along haul) but would find it difficult to recommend it to anyone. Approach with caution!
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Format: Paperback
This is a very cleverly crafted novel, chronicling the lives, loves and disasters of a mainly dysfunctional family living in "Middle England" during the 1950's to the present day. The central characters are not particularly endearing, and seem peculiarly superficial - but this is because the book is written through the lens of a camera. The camera is wielded by the central character, James, an obsessive and socially inept photographer.

The whole book is written in mainly short paragraphs, each acting as a snapshot of family life as it develops (or not) through the lifetime of James. Just occasionally, there is a snapshot out of chronological order, which piques our curiosity, and we glimpse a fate that we know, but not why. And it is the why? that leads us on...
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A detailed observation of the life of one family over several decades. The characters are well observed and their story really captures the readers attention. Very little happens until the end but the writing, character development and interesting little details make it highly readable.
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Format: Paperback
A family saga of the second half of the 20th century set in the Midlands and extending over 630 pages? Having recently read Tim Pears' debut novel, "In the Place of Fallen Leaves", from 1993, I opened his second book, published four years later, with considerable anticipation.

The novel, covering some 40 years from 1952, centres on the Freeman family: father, Charles (a bullying industrialist), and mother, Mary (sleepwalker and likely suicide), children Simon (smug hypochondriac), James (father-hating, mother-loving), Robert (furious with the world, resentful) and Alice (solemn, vegetarian and vigilant), cousin Zoe, and Laura (practical and supportive) the daughter of their cook and housekeeper, Edna.

Except for Zoe, a wandering hippy who takes charge of her grandmother's cinema, they all live in a crowded mansion on the outskirts of an English mill town. At the beginning the story lacks a firm centre, shifting between the different characters and their friends, before it eventually locates James, who lacks a focus to his life (pun intended) until he discovers photography.

The problem with this book is that the author appears to have started off with their personalities already established to cover a broad range of personal characteristics and, since these do not really develop over the course of the narrative, the reader is left urging the author to get a move on.

The book was adapted as a serial for the BBC and one can see the attraction of this. One wonders whether the author had one eye on this possibility when writing the novel since the structure he has adopted is one of recurrent vignettes which shift the scene from location to location and from character to character.
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Format: Paperback
A warm, moving family chronicle which was difficult to put down after the first 50 or so scene- setting pages. One of the best books I have read. Usually I ignore the overly hyped reviews which publishers insert at the beginning of books but on this occasion I agreed with all the praise.
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Format: Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who likes a book about everyday people, that you can really get your teeth into. The characters are brilliantly described and the most central member of the Freeman family, James, is a genuinely inspiring person. It is sad what happens to him and I kept on willing him to live happily ever after with the woman of his dreams, but, as in real life, sometimes things just aren't meant to be.
I don't think the book is too long or a slog in places, as described by others. The book is a reflection of life in that sometimes not very much happens, and at other times your whole world can be turned upside down. All of the characters in this book become friends and you end up caring for all of them.
This book made me laugh, smile, almost cry, and made me fearful of turning the page when things turn sour for James and Laura. This book was also responsible for me spending many a day at work struggling to stay awake and concentrate after I had stayed up until the early hours of the morning unable to put it down. Read it!
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