Harvest by Jim Crace

All things change…

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

HarvestWhen strangers arrive in Walter’s village, they herald the end of a way of life that has been unchanged since anyone in the village can remember. Mr Quill, the Chart-Maker, is mapping the land and the villagers are soon to learn that the new landowner has plans to enclose the land and change its use. Meanwhile a family of strangers has arrived in the village, driven here when their own land was lost to them in the same way. Although no date or location is given, it seems that we are in Tudor England.

The book begins strongly with a tale of two fires – one started maliciously, the other as a signal of new arrivals setting up home. The action takes place over the period of a week, during which we see the effects of change on this isolated group. The tone is elegiac – although the author tells us of some of the less pleasant aspects of village life, on the whole he paints a picture of a rural idyll where all work together for the common weal. But when the outsiders come and the villagers feel under threat, we see darker aspects of village life as the original inhabitants draw closer together and incomers suddenly find themselves on the outside, mistrusted, maltreated and betrayed.

Jim Crace(Source: Wikipedia)
Jim Crace
(Source: Wikipedia)

The author’s use of language is evocative, often poetic, and his descriptive style gives us a beautifully drawn picture of village life. However, for me, there are a couple of problems that mean that in the end the book doesn’t quite live up to its early promise. Told in the first person, our chronicler is Walter Thirsk, previously a servant and now a farmhand, and yet Walter’s language is that of a poet and philosopher. As a result, lovely though the writing is, the narrative voice didn’t ring true. Also most of the story is told by halfway through the book and the second half feels very empty and unnecessarily dragged out. The plot device allowing the book to play out as it does felt contrived and unrealistic and for the last 70 pages or so, I was really longing for it to finish – I felt that the author had said everything necessary and that the book had lost any thrust or momentum.

Despite these criticisms, I enjoyed the early part of the book very much, the prose throughout is beautiful and the descriptions of village life, particularly the working of the land, are particularly well done; all of which makes this a book well worth reading.

NB This book was provided for review by Amazon Vine UK.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

5 thoughts on “Harvest by Jim Crace

  1. I’ve read a couple of other books by Crace, Being Dead and The Pest House. His writing style is one of mesmerizing incantation. I imagine him measuring the meter as he’s writes and re-writes draft after draft.

    I enjoyed Being Dead more than the Pest House, although the latter was well-written and disturbing. I would call Being Dead a love story, although some would say it’s an extended lyrical essay on biological decomposition.

    Anyway, thanks for stopping by my blog and liking my review of The Demonologist by Pyper. I can’t believe how organized you are with your reviews. Can you come over and organize the pile that is my office? 🙂

    Thanks again! I’ll be combing through your reviews in the future. All the best with your blogging journey.

    • Yes, his prose is wonderful but the plotting didn’t match up. And I felt this was a prime example of where a first person narrative doesn’t work since the language didn’t match the character. Had it been written in the third person I felt it would have worked much better.

      I enjoyed your review of The Demonologist very much. It made me want to read a book that I would have instinctively avoided – the sign of an inspiring review.

      Haha! I assure you my organisation skills are strictly limited to online! If only my house was as tidy…;-)

      Thanks for commenting!

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