Landed by Tim Pears
|Landed by Tim Pears
|Category: General Fiction
|Reviewer: Ruth Ng
|Summary: Slow to start, but it will reward your patience as it spirals into a beautifully layered novel.
|Date: March 2010
|Publisher: William Heinemann Ltd
I have hesitated to write this review because, truthfully, I am not entirely sure that I know what happened at the end. I read it all. I actually read the end several times. And then I skipped back to the middle, just to check something, before trying the end again. I have decided to just believe in what I think happened, and since I don't want to spoil it for other readers then I don't have to make a complete fool of myself writing down what it is I think! And actually, that mysteriousness is part of the charm of the story. So, slight confusion aside, I still gave this book four stars, and this is why...
Firstly, it is a wonderful thing to be in the hands of an author you trust. I have read several other books by Tim Pears and loved them, enough to have read them more than once. He has a very accessible, yet intelligent style, and a knack for writing descriptive passages that I don't skip over to get to the next good bit. At the start of this particular book I was a bit wary since he begins with a Collision Investigator's Report and its dry, factual style made me pause, wondering what type of book he was writing.
The second chapter, however, was immediately that wonderful prose of his and suddenly the story seemed to really begin. It's a story about Owen who, as a young boy, finds himself landed with his grandparents on their small farm in the Welsh Borders. Here he finds his true self, as he silently observes his grandfather rearing sheep, hunting, carving, allowing Owen to pick up his skills by osmosis. When he grows older Owen moves away to the city where he marries, has children and finds happiness. Or so he thinks. Until a fatal car accident changes everything forever.
The whole of the first section of the book alternates between passages about Owen's childhood and what appear to be present day, more factual items such as the collision report, doctor's observations etc. It feels like you are being drip fed information, and whilst you're caught up in Owen's young life you begin to piece together, slowly, his adult life too. The characterisation is wonderful. Owen is a very quiet, gentle sort of child and he endears himself to the reader as you follow his young life with his elderly grandparents. They all seem very alive, and I could clearly picture the warm, welcoming farmhouse, the hearty meals together with the quiet, dour grandfather and the chatty, warm grandmother. Because I became attached to Owen it gave a greater impact to the accident, and the ensuing difficulties Owen goes through. And because you're fed the information so slowly, piecemeal, it heightens the drama of what happened.
The whole book feels very well thought out. After the alternating pattern of the first half, the second half follows Owen directly in his adult life, and this uninterrupted vision of Owen's life is both moving and wonderfully descriptive. Owen is most at home in the countryside, and as he escapes the city his knowledge and love of nature are delicately portrayed, as is his love for his children. As I said, my only issue with the book was my uncertainty as to what exactly happens at the end. The style seems to shift slightly into something more magical, more spiritual, and it made me question the truth of everything that had preceded it. Perhaps this was intentional, and it certainly made me think long and hard for some time after the book was closed. I think that In the Place of Fallen Leaves is still my favourite book of his so far, but this one is definitely worth a read if you enjoy lyrical, character-driven stories.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag. We also have a review of The Horseman by Tim Pears.
You can read more book reviews or buy Landed by Tim Pears at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Landed by Tim Pears at Amazon.com.
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