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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 10 August 2015
Lovely story... beautifully drawn characters.
I loved it.
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on 14 April 2011
I felt touched and inspired by this book, which makes the point of our common responsibility for humanity's future in a very subtle way, like a gentle stroke of breeze on your cheek.

Grandmother Rosemary, whose behaviour is affected by an illness, hectors her family about the excesses of our unsustainable civilisation, effectively shutting out any meaningful discussion. She presents her arguments intellectually, with a great dose of bitterness about our failures. Despite the clarity of her analysis and proposed solutions, ultimately, however, hers is not the voice we hear or are likely to learn from.

The author juxtaposes Rosemary's angry rants against her 13-year old grandson's subtle observations of life in the countryside and love in a family, which allow us to make up our own minds on the same issues. Through Rosemary the author tells us where we went wrong, but we are unable to take this in because of the way in which the points are made. Through the 13-year old Theo's love for his grandmother and empathy for all that surrounds him, however, we see the same lessons clearly, and are allowed to draw the conclusions by ourselves.

The book is very deep and multi-dimensional, the above being only one of its many aspects.

Although this may not have been the author's original intention, Disputed Land is for me one of the strongest and clearest contemporary statements about ecology and the need for transition from exploitative, extraction-based and untrammeled growth-obsessed civilisation, to an ethically-oriented, sustainable and resilient human development. A work of true art. Thank you Tim Pears.
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on 7 May 2011
I must admit to being totally biased when it comes to Tim Pears. I love his meditations on science and nature. Life's sensuality and our relationship with the Earth are always to the fore. You "feel" a Pears book as much as read it and this is no exception. Strained family relationships, grotesquely knowing kids, economy-destroying businessmen, emergent sexuality and planning for death. All this and more can be found within...
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on 30 October 2012
Rosemary and Leonard Cannon summon their children and grandchildren to their home for Christmas. When everyone is settled they proceed to stun their family with a rather unexpected request, they ask that their children should take a good look around the house and its contents and put stickers on any items they wish to inherit.
The story is told through the eyes of Rosemary and Leonard's grandson Theo, a thirteen year old boy observing the chaos around him as his family attempt to share the holiday in harmony.
Although I appreciate it was well written I did not get where this novel was going, in my opinion it was quite a dull and cliched read.
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on 1 January 2013
'Disputed Land' was a Book Club selection which was thoroughly enjoyed by our members; so much so that we all chose to read the author's previous novel, 'Landed' as an additional read. I am awarding 4 stars for 'Disputed Land' because although 'Landed' tackled a darker subject, it had that extra 5 star edge. Incidentally, the artwork on the covers of both novels is amazing. Tim Pears, or 'tinned pears' as he became known, was an unfamiliar author to our group, but has now become a firm favourite.

Set some 50 years in the future, amongst the rolling landscape between Birmingham and the Welsh borders, Theo, the novel's middle-aged narrator, reflects upon a series of personal & social events which took place over the Christmas period of 2008 when he was thirteen years old. His grand-parents had summoned the family together, inviting them to place stickers on any items they wished to inherit. What an explosive topic!

Unlike others, I felt that Pears had produced a fabulous cast of family characters and was adept at drawing out the foibles and grudges among them. He has a sharp eye for the poignant domestic detail and his feel for the family home and surrounding countryside through time and change is both skilful and atmospheric.

In this most engaging novel, Pears asks, 'If a single family cannot solve the problem of what it bequeaths to the future generation, then what chance does society have of leaving the world intact?'

This is a very worthwhile read.
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VINE VOICEon 27 July 2012
Theo's family is gathered together for Christmas at his grandparents house so that they can all "lay claim" to the various pieces of furniture around the house.
Using a teenage boy as the narrator works well as he can stand back and observe as if an outsider, often the way that teenage boys feel.
I had a few problems with some of the sentence structures. Sometimes the text didn't flow and I needed to reread the occasional section in order for it to make sense.
Very quickly you begin to realise how cliched the characters are, even the narrator who is the teenage oddbod (and an only child to force home the point). This seems a wasted opportunity as the book holds a good story but is overshadowed by the unbelieveable characters that appear in it.
There are some very typical and well observed family interactions, particularly good is the talking about other family members that goes on being closed doors.
Where the book fails for me is that it is trying to make a serious message but does not do it successfully, ie about what world we leave behind to our descendants. Simply recording a family Christmas may have worked much better. Still worth a read though as it does have a lot of good qualities.
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on 30 April 2013
"Disputed Land" is Tim Pears's seventh novel and, as in "Landed", he has chosen the countryside around the Welsh border, specifically Shropshire, for its setting (the epigraph is from Shropshire's own lad, Housman, "On Wenlock Edge"). A family gathers for Christmas at the home of the narrator's - 13-year-old Theo's - grandparents. We are soon made aware that some sort of closure is imminent - all the adult children are instructed to label any items of furniture they may wish to inherit. Each character, as always with Pears, is carefully and skillfully drawn, warts and all, and the grandparents particularly so. This is fitting, as one of the novel's themes is how the past always manages to pervade the present. Pears again excels at describing nature and the surrounding landscape, and despite the rather bleak future that seems to await us, according to what the narrator, a much older Theo, tells us from time to time, this is a wonderfully warm novel, confirming yet again that Pears is one of England's finest writers.
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on 25 June 2011
I had not come across Tim Pears before but was interested in the idea of relatives being summoned to put stickers on what items they wished to inherit. I wasn't persuaded by many of the characters but enjoyed the book. The final pages and their "what have i done?" to save the planet grated but I left me wanting to read more by Tim Pears.
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on 4 February 2012
Disputed Land by Tim Pears is frankly, to me, a bit of an oddity of a novel. It begins with a man intent upon recording some aspect of his family's history for his children, who seem bemused by this.
At this point I anticipated a story set in the 1970's about the man's past in connection to the current present. However, when we flashback we are in 2008 our "present day". Theo, the story's author and main character is a teenager and is meeting up with his relations, a rare occurrence, for Christmas at his grandparents home. It transpires that his Grandmother has cancer and has brought them all together so that they can divide her possessions prior to her death. There is bluff selfish businessman Uncle Jonny his obnoxious twins Xan and Baz and his beautiful wife Aunt Lorna. Theo's Aunt Gwen who has newly become a lesbian, her partner Melony and her daughters Sid and Holly with golden child and favoured grandson Matt set to follow on.

What bugged me is that with the reveal or twist in the closing pages of this novel, like Theo's children I wondered what precisely the point was of this particular story he told. It didn't seem to bear any relevance or importance to the lives which his children and grandchildren now led, and would seem in many ways likely to anger them with the laissez faire arrogance of the past and the almost fairytale like plenty. The truly interesting story for me was Theo's present in relation to his past, of the past there is plenty but of the present there is next to nothing.

What remains is essentially the story of your average middle class privileged Christmas with everyone trying to be civil and get along. And the strange, uncomfortable yet important act of sorting out someone's possessions when their death hasn't yet occurred but is known to be impending.
Though these are common experiences, it's a bit boring, and nothing special. The idea that Theo is writing this from a future that was predicted yet not heeded is supposed to be what makes this special. If there had been a continual juxtaposition of this concept throughout the novel it might have become moving even alarming but instead it just feels like a juvenile sensational addendum to a thirteen year olds short story, and a riff on the ideas of the Ghosts of Christmas Past and Present.

Sadly the bulk of this novel is very Aga Saga esque and its failed attempt at a decent twist doesn't save it. If it were a paperback and not an ebook it would be off to Oxfam tomorrow I'm afraid. 5/10
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 October 2011
Tim Pears is new author for me and a welcome change of pace compared with the frenetic crime novels I've been reading recently. Slowly he creates the claustrophobic atmosphere of a family Christmas comprised of grandparents, their adult children and a cluster of grand-children. The grand-mother has instigated this get-together to ask her 4 adult children to choose what items of her furniture, etc., they would like to inherit. They have put stickers on the items with an order of preference: a recipe for sibling rivalry and discord! Needless to say, tensions abound all seen through the eyes of the teenage narrator, Theo, a boy who seems wise beyond his years. Most of the book ambles along creating the atmosphere and introducing all the diverse characters who gradually take shape in the reader's mind. Old-fashioned party games are played and friction among the family members increase coming to a head the day after Christmas. The slow build-up adds to the impact of the final crises (and there are more than one).

The author weaves in lyrical descriptions of the Welsh Marches, the historically disputed lands of the title that chime with the disputations among the adult siblings over who gets what after their parents' death.
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