A love divided. A world torn in two. A return. A redemption.
A stirring, exquisitely rendered tale of homecoming; the final instalment in Tim Pears's epic West Country Trilogy
It is 1916. Lottie Prideaux rides the winding lanes of her childhood on her motorcycle, defying the expectations of her class and sex as she trains to be a vet. Meanwhile young Leo Sercombe finds himself a long way from home, hauling coal aboard the HMS Queen Mary in the middle of the ocean. Here life is raw, bloody and vivid, with death never more than a heartbeat away.
As Leo and Lottie wander in this strange and brave new world, and as war, loss, violence and betrayal conspire to tear asunder the ties that bind the past, present and future together, can even the most fated of returns - and redemptions - hope to come to pass?
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Tim Pears is the winner of a Lannan Prize and the author of ten novels, including In the Place of Fallen Leaves (winner of the Hawthornden Prize and the Ruth Hadden Memorial Award), In a Land of Plenty (made into a ten-part BBC series), Landed (shortlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2012 and the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize 2011, winner of the MJA Open Book Awards 2011) and, most recently, The Horseman (2017) and The Wanderers (2018), first two books in The West Country Trilogy. In America he has received a Lannan Award. He has been Writer in Residence at Cheltenham Festival of Literature and a Royal Literary Fund Fellow and Reading Round Lector, and has taught creative writing for Arvon, the University of Oxford, First Story and Ruskin College, among others. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He and his wife live in Oxford. They have two children.
Praise for the West Country Trilogy: 'A gorgeously hypnotic paean to rural England ... Peppered with moments of awestruck wonder at the natural world -- Melissa Harrison * Guardian * This intelligent and moving evocation of life on a country estate just before the First World War is both down-to-earth and magical. There are faint echoes of Alain Fournier's masterpiece Le Grand Meaulnes, and there's no higher praise -- Allan Massie * Sunday Herald, Books of the Year * Goodness, Tim Pears writes beautifully ... the descriptions of rural life, executed with painterly exactness, are a constant delight. The prose really sings * Mail on Sunday * Tim Pears deserves a place among the best rural writers ... Pears is an exemplary historical novelist with a Romantic eye for nature, and this heady walk through the forgotten lanes of England thrums with life. His unsentimental handling of rural poverty precludes any chocolate boxery, yet his evocation of the land's sounds, smells and tastes are a match for any of the great scribes of the countryside -- Melissa Katsoulis * The Times * His prose is luminous, drawing in the reader ... Pears' fiction has been likened to Thomas Hardy's, and the comparison is apposite. As a coming-of-age novel, it is wise and insightful ... And as a portrayal of rural Edwardian England, it is powerful, vivid and humane -- Hannah Beckerman * Observer * A classic ... Leo and Lottie step out into the world, and twentieth century rushes up to greet them ... Knotty and nuanced * Times Literary Supplement * Loud with brilliantly captured voices and vividly drawn characters ... A lyrical journey worth undertaking * Daily Mail * Clear-sighted storytellers in the tradition of Rosalind Belben and Flora Thompson (and H. E. Bates, when he was writing about poachers rather than Larkins) know that real life in the country is bursting with politics, mystery, sex and death, and all you need to do is describe it beautifully and carefully. Only a few authors are talented or brave enough to do that, and Pears, in his maturity, is one of them ... As a testament to a forgotten generation of countrymen it is unsurpassed and it goes very nicely indeed with a dark night, rain on the windowpane and a cosy armchair -- Melissa Katsoulis * The Times * His lyrical but unsentimental portrait of a long-lost rural world, and the characters who are shaped by it, is affecting -- Nick Rennison * Sunday Times * Pears's sumptuous but scrupulous descriptions of the countryside are as evocative as Robert Macfarlane's nature writing and as delicious to savour ... The final part of this moving, absorbing odyssey cannot arrive quickly enough * Metro * A triumph ... creates clear-eyed portraits of a lost way of life, and of a people whose traditions were disregarded throughout most of the 20th century ... Country life used to be populated by these eccentric gypsies, pagans and mystics. The Wanderers invites them into our imaginations once again * Glasgow Sunday Herald * The pleasure of it lies in taking in the language and the setting - the West country, in 1911 and 1912 - and in reading it like a long poem, with each chapter a stanza -- Jane Smiley * Guardian * This book needs to be read with quiet attention to reap its rich rewards * Daily Mail * An assured, slow-burn, lyrical book, a rewarding read in our troubled times * Herald * With hypnotic lyricism, Pears describes this bucolic Devon world and the people who inhabit it, all of them secure in the knowledge of their place in the grand scheme of things ... [A] paean to the pastoral * Mail on Sunday * Neatlycrafted, and compelling * Spectator * A mesmerising book ... An evocation of the pre-First World War countryside, sparely written and imagined with exceptional fidelity ... A tale beautifully told * Country Life * Magically immediate * Times Literary Supplement * An exhilarating vision, a bittersweet elegy for the innocent certainties of an agrarian world before the industrialised horrors of the 20th century come crashing down * Irish Times * A distinctly compelling pastoral bildungsroman that leaves the reader eager for the next installment -- Lucy Scholes * BBC Countryfile *
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