Come and chat to award-winning author Jim Crace about Booker-shortlisted HARVEST and his previous novels, date tbc

(65 Posts)

Award-winning novelist Jim Crace announced last year that his latest book, HARVEST, would also be his last. And it is all about a way of life that has been lost forever. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2013, HARVEST is a bewitching, semi-mythological tale set in a landscape that is never named, but appears to be rural England at the time of the Enclosures. Traditional relationships between man and nature, and the relationships within the feudal village, are coming to an end. The arrival of three strangers (and the subsequent fire at the manor house on the same night) leads to suspicion, violence and fear.

The sparse yet lyrical prose has a unique style– as Boyd Tonkin put it: 'Inimitably excellent, Jim Crace stands on his own ground among living English novelists'. Tightly structured and meticulously written, HARVEST is an outstanding finale to a truly brilliant career.

For more detail on Jim Crace’s fiction, short stories, radio plays and journalism, go to his extensive website – you’ll also find Jim’s Books of the Year 2013 recommendations.

Macmillan have 50 copies to give to Mumsnetters – to claim yours go to the book of the month page. We’ll post on the thread when all the copies have gone. If you’re not lucky enough to bag one of the free books, you can always get your paperback or Kindle version here.

We are thrilled that Jim will be joining us and answering questions about HARVEST, his writing career and all his previous novels and will let you know when we have confirmed a webchat date (most likely the first week in April). ??So please feel free to discuss the book here throughout the month, pop up any advance questions and we will see you all here in April.

AliceMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 24-Feb-14 10:32:25

The giveaway for Harvest is now closed. We will notify those who have been selected to receive a free copy of the book via email. If you haven't received a free copy, feel free to buy the book, let us know your thoughts and post a question to author Jim Crace.

DuchessofMalfi Tue 25-Feb-14 14:29:33

I bought this a while ago. Hope to read and join in with this discussion. Is there a date set yet?

alialiath Fri 28-Feb-14 18:23:33

Thanks, I received a copy of Harvest in the post today. I'm going to finish reading the book I'm presently reading ( hopefully by tomorrow ) before starting Harvest, which I can't wait to start as it looks interesting.

alialiath Tue 04-Mar-14 21:00:14

Like harvest time, the book Harvest is not to be rushed, and I'm enjoying this beautifully written story.
My only gripe is that the vivid yellow and orange cover has got my cats into a frenzy, and every time I pick the book up my two cats are playing a tug of war with me to claim the book. ( at least I think it's the colours, but maybe they want to learn to read as they know they're missing out on something special )

cavylover Thu 06-Mar-14 14:33:02

Extremely descriptive book set in medieval times in a remote village in a changing era. Found it a bit plodding in places and rather gruesome and not a personal favourite of mine although I am probably in the minority.

FernieB Sat 08-Mar-14 07:48:24

It is a well written, beautifully described book. I felt as though I could see the landscape and picture the characters as the author has portrayed them so well. Sadly it's just not for me and I struggled to get into this book. I managed to finish it but can't say I enjoyed it. I think that is down to me and not the author. I shall pass it on as I know a few friends who will enjoy it.

hackmum Sat 08-Mar-14 12:51:04

I really loved this book. I hadn't read any Jim Crace before so I didn't know what to expect. I thought it was beautifully written and incredibly powerful.

I'm sure Jim won't answer this, but I'd love to know roughly when it's supposed to be set - the critics were all at sea on this!

I was also very interested in (and horrified by) the description of the pillory. From the description in the book it sounded more as if the men were being crucified than put in a pillory. Is that right, or have I misunderstood?

weirdthing Sat 08-Mar-14 16:04:41

I read this as part of a pack of Booker Prize shortlisters that I got quite cheaply from the Book People site. It was the best of the bunch! A really excellent book and my husband agreed that it was virtually un-put-downable. We will certainly be seeking out more of Jim Crace's books soon.

barricade Sun 09-Mar-14 14:39:07

Sincere thanks for sending me the book 'HARVEST', by Jim Crace.
I opened the book in real anticipation, but sought to quell any unfair expectation I may have held. This was the first book that I had read by the author. It became immediately apparent that he is a talented writer. The prose was rich and imaginative, and the themes presented were brought to life with meticulously detailed descriptive language.
However, after a slow, but promising build-up, the narrative then dragged on tediously over the next 10 chapters, with only isolated incidents of note, and any hints of mystery rapidly dissipating as the ending became increasingly predictable. The tale plodded on to a disappointing conclusion.
After ending the book, it became obvious that it was never intended to be a suspenseful, edge-of-your-seat thriller. Unfortunately, I could not help feel the hours taken to read the book were wasted ones.

FULL REVIEW HAS BEEN UPLOADED.

CloserLook Sun 09-Mar-14 15:18:43

Just finished this book last night.

I will admit it took me a couple of tries to get into this book but once I stuck with it I found it difficult to put down. The descriptions of bringing the harvest in and the idylllic community of the villiage at the beginning were very well written. It meant as the plot developed and the community disintegrated for various reasons there was a sense of loss such as the subtle disruption of their harvest party by the mysterious woman.

I admit the plot was a little thin and parts of the story never really went anywhere but it didn't spoil my enjoyment of reading it. I enjoyed the steady pace and although I was hoping for more of a conclusion at the end of the book I'm not sure what ending would have been satisfying so maybe it was best left as it was.

I will be trying some more of the author's books as I did enjoy his writing style.

hackmum Mon 10-Mar-14 09:22:00

Another question.

At times the book feels like a dark moral fable, but it also deals with a real historical event - the enclosures. It really conveys the extent to which ordinary people were at the mercy of the whims of individual landowners. I wondered what had drawn you to that subject, what historical reading you'd done and whether there are any books you'd recommend to others?

sparkysparkysparky Mon 10-Mar-14 12:03:06

Question for Jim: I was struck by the absence of the Church (capital C). Did your research reassure you that you could keep its direct influence on land and people out of the narrative? Did you consider having clerical power in the story ?

RAZDAZ Mon 10-Mar-14 13:51:45

Just finished this book. It was a little hard to get into and although once the story got going, I didn't really feel there was any substance in it. It seemed to flit from person to person without any real story or conclusion in the end. Sadly not for me.

Babelange Sat 15-Mar-14 21:46:49

This is the first book by Jim Crace I have read; what a tremendous read it is! But perhaps I missed this book because of the lurid book cover and the Stephen King-esque title.

Unfortunately, many of the reviews here or elsewhere will contain plot spoilers and I would recommend that anyone reads it without finding out too much about the story - you need to read it in all its appalling ‘real-time’ tragedy. It is not an easy read at all – another reviewer commented on the similarities in tension between Crace’s book and Cormac Mccarthy’s book ‘The Road’ which I felt too.

What struck me too was the pervasive sense of loss – Walter is widowed and the absence of the master’s wife, Lucy Kent (who is also dead long before the novel takes place), is palpable. Her death, although relatively distant in time, becomes a catalyst for the events which unfold. So rather than being a novel with the central motif of abundance and bounty as the title would suggest; it is really about loss, barrenness and a terrible crime (or strictly speaking a series of crimes).

My questions for Jim are;
If you could be truly objective about your work, which one of your novels pleased you the most and if readers enjoyed this book, which would you recommend they read next? (I fancy ‘Quarantine’).

Did you set out to debunk ‘romantic’ notions of the countryside or was it the social injustice during this period which interested you the most?

Finally; are you a town or country mouse?

SG1976 Mon 17-Mar-14 21:05:50

If the recipe read: take a large pinch of Thomas Hardy, add another of Richard Adams (he of Watership Down fame), add bags of originality and then a touch of spice, bring to the boil and then reduce to a readable circa 250 pages, then what you have is Harvest by Jim Crace. Its a wonderful and gripping story written in a bygone time in the English country. You simply will find it near impossible to find a modern book so well written, yet easy to read. Jim Crace, if you're reading this, please do not stop writing novels. You're not just "one of the great writers of our time" (- Colum McCann, author of Let The Great World Spin), you're actually one of the great writers of any time.

SG1976 Mon 17-Mar-14 21:55:17

"But perhaps I missed this book because of the lurid book cover and the Stephen King-esque title. " - totally agree with you there Babelange. Picador - what were you thinking?!

pennwood Wed 19-Mar-14 20:18:54

I was at page 24 before I actually got into the book, & it took perseverance. It was quite dark in parts, and I did not enjoy it overall. I was expecting more of a conclusion to the book as well.

MadamBatShit Mon 24-Mar-14 10:42:57

No question yet, but maybe later..
I loved this book, it was the best I read last year. Amazing.

I read the Pesthouse after this and wasn't as impressed with that one (sweet earwax? really?) but will read others.

MrsRedWhite214 Tue 25-Mar-14 22:52:57

I loved the way I could really get into the setting of the book. The writing gave me a vivid picture of the fields, trees, and main house without boring me with details. Some would complain at the lack of secondary character development, but I found the story from Walters point of view only worked well to keep the story consistent and uncomplicated. The story is set within specific geographical limits, which again worked well. The reader is never fully clear about how well developed other towns and villages really were. I was really taken in by the simplicity of the setting and the story which hinted at much more complex themes without being dragged down by them.

ProfYaffle Mon 31-Mar-14 18:41:23

I've just finished reading this and adored it. Such an easy, languid story that slips by so smoothly it comes as a shock to realise how catastrophic the unfolding events are, for this community and many more all over England.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 31-Mar-14 21:32:58

Thanks so much to those who have posted their thoughts and questions to Jim so far. A reminder that he will be joining us TOMORROW (Tuesday) evening between 9 and 10pm to answer your questions about Harvest and his other novels, so please do log on and join him. Everyone who joins the chat will be entered into a draw to win the next THREE bookclub books. Look forward to seeing you again tomorrow.

I wouldn't normally choose to read this type of book - not so keen on overly literary books - and although I definitely prefer a faster-paced read, this was beautiful to read. Crace's prose is sublime. I'm glad I was nudged out of my comfort zone by the bookclub!

brendarenda Tue 01-Apr-14 09:19:09

What a great book! I thoroughly enjoyed it. At one point I started trying to read it as a sort of cross between the Garden of Eden, and the crucifixion. I was especially intrigued by the woman outsider as a kind of Eve/Mary. But the characters and the plot were so compelling that I soon forgot about all that, and just enjoyed the rest of the book without trying to shoehorn it into anything else.
I'd be really interested to hear Jim's thoughts on religion (and ritual more generally) in the book and - as someone else has said - the lack of Church.

MadamBatShit Tue 01-Apr-14 10:29:18

Out of my time-zone I'm afraid (I'll be sleeping then).
I hope you all have a great time with it though, have fun!

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