In A Land Of Plenty Paperback – 2 Apr 1998
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"'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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A sweeping evocative epic of three generations.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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!
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...
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.Read more ›
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!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really wanted to like this book as I love long books that enable one to understand characters and plot in depth (I've read War and Peace twice!). Read morePublished on 3 April 2014 by Mr. Toad
The second Pears book that I have read. Quite simply one of the best books I have read. Powerful, moving and absorbing. One that I will definitely read again at some point.Published on 31 Mar. 2013 by Clouds Hill
A wonderful, big story about a family growing up in Middle England, stretching from the 1950s to the 1990s. Read morePublished on 19 Jun. 2012 by Kate Hopkins
Pears has a knack of writing in detail without being boring. This saga of a changing family over time just flows.Published on 8 Jun. 2010 by Awill
A Forsythe Saga for the 20th Century, what could be more exciting? You have the back-drop of post-war austerity, the swinging Sixties, the winter of discontent and the Thatcher... Read morePublished on 15 Oct. 2008 by Caterkiller
I had my first encounter with this story when I saw the television adaptation around 5 years ago. This inspired me to read the book. Read morePublished on 5 Feb. 2006