The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig
|The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A look at the two sides of our nation: those who live in cities and those (obviously inferior) people who inhabit the countryside. It's superbly written and a brilliantly satisfying read.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 432||Date: June 2017|
|Publisher: Little, Brown Abacus|
|External links: Author's website|
The Bredins can't afford to divorce. The house in London would sell, but not for a priced that would allow Quentin and Lottie ( she with her son and their two girls) to each get somewhere to live. Unemployment has barrelled into the equation too: Lottie's lost her job as an architect and Quentin's prowess as a journalist is in reducing demand. There's not much in the way of family help available: Lottie's mother's house might be worth six million, but she barely scrapes by on her income. There's one solution that just might work: the house in London can be let and they'll move to somewhere cheap in the country and live as best they can on the rent they receive.
Home Farm in Devon sounds good, but the reality is different. So far as the big picture's concerned it's... well, it's... Devon. Cultural and ethnic diversity is all but unknown and in winter the weather's cruel. The people are good, kind for the most part, but their concerns are not the ones which politicians worry about. Politically, they're largely forgotten. Home Farm's not exactly cosy either. It's damp, it's cold and the sinister atmosphere is only explained when they discover that the last tenant was murdered. His headless body was found by the postman. Lottie and Quentin each find out about this, but neither feels able to tell the other and they're certainly not going to tell the kids. It's bad enough that the girls have had to leave their private school and go to the local primary.
Lottie's son, Xan, should have been going to Cambridge but the difference between two A stars and and A and one A star and two A grades explains why he's not getting an Oxbridge education but working night shifts in a Devon pie factory on a zero-hours contract. The tourists might love Devon, but life feels cruel for the Bredins. They've moved from a cosmopolitan metropolis to a place that's far from London, physically and politically - and voting UKIP is quite reasonable.
I picked this book up for one simple reason: I'd never read anything by Amanda Craig. I'd heard good things, ranging from her ability to pick up on what the politicians are missing but without turning the novel into a polemic, through to her brilliantly-constructed plots. So, did the The Lie of the Land live up to expectations? Actually, it exceeded them. I was expecting a good story, perhaps from the same school as Margaret Forster or Joanna Trollope, but what I got was far more satisfying. It's on the edge of being darkly comic, but so sharply observed that you hesitate to laugh. There's also a very good murder mystery, which kept me guessing until very close to the end.
It's a day or two now since I finished reading The Lie of the Land and I find myself wondering about how the characters are doing. They're so real that I keep expecting their circumstances to have changed since I last met them. Amanda Craig has a history of allowing her characters to reappear in different novels, so I'm hopeful that I haven't seen the last of some excellent characters. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy of the book to the Bookbag.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.