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A Far Country [Kindle Edition]

Daniel Mason
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $13.95
Kindle Price: $7.99
You Save: $5.96 (43%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

From the bestselling author of The Piano Tuner, a stunning novel about a young girl’s journey through a vast, unnamed country in search of her brother.

Fourteen-year-old Isabel was born in a remote village with the gift and curse of “seeing farther.” When drought and war grip the backlands, her brother Isaias joins a great exodus to a teeming city in the south. Soon Isabel must follow, forsaking the only home she’s ever known, her sole consolation the thought of being with her brother again.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this flat but intermittently intriguing follow-up to his bestselling debut, The Piano Tuner, Mason takes readers to two impoverished locales in an unnamed, possibly South American (and heavily Catholic) country: a rural area known as the backlands, and the Settlements, the poor outskirts of a large city. When drought and deprivation become overwhelming in the backlands, 14-year-old Isabel is sent by her family to live with relatives in the Settlement. Her older brother, Isaias, moved to the city several months earlier, and Isabel expects a happy reunion; however, he has gone missing. As Isabel tends to her cousin's baby and adjusts to the chaotic city life, the search for Isaias becomes her obsession, demanding all of her resources—including what may be psychic powers. The story's settings fail to evoke a distinct world; the backlands seem taken from the 1930s American Dust Bowl, while the city—with its nonspecific political corruption, simmering class tensions, and the popularity of saints, soccer and soap operas among its residents—is a grab bag of regional clichés. Mason's strength is in description, and though his accounts of severe weather reach a visceral peak, Isabel is primarily an observer. Readers may be wooed by the prose, but the story is a snoozer. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School—A poetic meditation on poverty, development, and the unwavering strength of family ties among the rural poor in the Third World. Set in an unnamed Latin nation, this novel chronicles the search by a 14-year-old for her older brother, who has moved to the city for a better life. The two grew up near a sugarcane plantation, and Isabel cherishes the memory of Isaias taking her on long walks in the hills, where he would find wild cactus fruit and brush off the dirt before giving it to her, or jump into the plants to pick a pink flower. One day, after he reluctantly starts working in the fields, she is ordered to find him. Dwarfed by the tall sugarcane, she is soon lost, but seems to have an uncanny ability to "see through" and locate Isaias. After Isabel sees a spirit in the fields, her mother fears the girl is an "open" person, poised between two worlds, and takes her to a healer, who attempts to "close" her. With exquisite prose and a subtle nod to magical realism, Mason helps readers experience the starvation that causes Isabel and her parents to eat dirt, as well as the discarded tires and chaotic noise of the city. This is a quiet novel for teens who want to understand the poverty that can rend families apart and one girl's determination to see hers whole again. Isabel's journey is one that everyone will understand and no one will forget.—Pat Bangs, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 359 KB
  • Print Length: 290 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307389391
  • Publisher: Vintage (March 6, 2007)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000OI0G0W
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #827,307 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I can't find enough superlatives! March 23, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Your enjoyment of this novel may depend on how fast you bond with the main character, Isabel. She had me at "Hello."

A FAR COUNTRY has elements of a quest novel, but it could also be a "Coming of Age" novel. Isabel is sent to the city because a drought has devastated her homelands. She takes a "perch," a flatbed truck surrounded by a railing that looks rather like a birdcage. Isabel hopes to find her brother, Isaias, who left for the city to become a musician. If you have ever been lost in a big city, you will feel for Isabel. The address she has for her cousin, for whom she will babysit during the week, doesn't mean much to the people she asks for help. When she finally finds "The settlement" it's a scary place indeed.

Isabel finds a weekend job working as a flag-waver for a political candidate. That's where she meets Josiane, who could be an American teenager. She's into boys, discotheques, and movie magazines. She sets out to corrupt Isabel. She also provides the comic relief in the novel.

Meanwhile Isabel continues her search for her brother. Some will be bothered by the number of coincidences involved, but Daniel Mason has done a great job suspending disbelief. As a young girl in the backlands, Isabel had a mystical ability to find her brother in the sugar cane fields, no matter how well he hid. This makes what happens later more believable.

Mason never does tell the reader where in South America the action occurs. But he does drop some hints. Brazil has innumerable sugar cane fields. Mason also tells us the city Isabel goes to has ten to twelve million people, and there are "settlements," in the big city, a euphemism for slums. Isabel's boyfriend also takes her to a huge beach. Ipa Nima? I may be wrong but it was fun to gather clues.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Visionary, unforgettable, stunning May 7, 2007
Are you the type of person who can sit alone contentedly for a many hours merely observing and sensing the world around you? Are you the type of person who delights in reading words put together so creatively and carefully that they come to life on the page and in your mind? Are you the type of person who reads in order to better comprehend the human condition and, in particular, the currrent state of the world at this, the beginning of the 21st century--at this dangerous tipping point in earth's history where mankind finds itself entering a century of possible global climate and ecological disaster? If you are, then you might enjoy getting to know Isabella, the main character in Daniel Mason's second novel "A Far Country."

Isabella is the teenage daughter of present-day peasant farmers in an unnamed, most-likely South American country. Her people are cane-cutters. The family lives in a dirt-floored hut and sleeps hip-to-hip in hammocks slung together in a single tiny room. There is a small town nearby, but they are a good four-days' journey, "by perch" (a crowded flat bed truck filled to overflowing with dusty migrant travelers) from the big city (a megametropolis of over 14 million).

Isabella is a contented, quiet, gifted child, extremely close to her older brother Isaias. She idealizes him; for Isabella, Isaias is perfect in every way.

As the result of a long cataclysmic drought, first the brother and then the sister must leave their village for the big city. Almost the entire novel is taken up with Isabella's quest to find her brother in the city. The book is full of vivid observation and sensing. The author has the gift of making it possible for you live inside Isabella's mind. As a result, the civilized world takes on otherworldly and alien dimensions.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully written with fantastic characters. March 21, 2007
I love this book! A huge fan of Mason's, The Piano Tuner, I ran out and bought this the day it was released. I was not disappointed! Mason's writing is addicting and with the descriptive story line and vulnerable characters, especially Isabel, it's tough to put down. Read this book. A++++
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as Good as the Piano Tuner January 5, 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I loved the Piano Tuner and have waited a long time for Mason to write another book. It was well written and the characters were compelling, but the story took a long time to reach a conclusion that didn't really satisfy...and didn't make me feel that it was worth the effort (though that's not a very good word for what I mean) it took to get there. All in all, disappointing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Far Country May 6, 2007
By Ran
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Not as good a read as the Piano Tuner but worth the price at any rate. Daniel Mason's prose is quite descriptive and allows your mind to see and experience the emotions he is writing about.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Started slow, but then picked up... May 14, 2008
This book started a little slow for me. I was almost to the point were I thought about giving up (something I hate to do) when the story and pace picked up and I found myself getting totally engrossed.

There is a "cut to the chase" quality about the writing that I really enjoyed. There is no unnecessary dialog and description, just enough to put you in the moment. I particularly liked the fact that there is no clearly defined time and place in which this story is happening (although the President Kennedy reference leads the reader to believe it's the early 1960's.) This story could be taking place anywhere - a South American country, the Dominican Republic or a southern US state.

I liked the character of Isabel a great deal. You can really feel her desperation and loneliness. She'll stay with me for a long time. A four star recommendation only because of the slow start.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Linger Over the Words like an Art Piece
My first time read of author Daniel Mason. A Far Country is a beautifully written story about Isabel, a young South American girl, and told in her perspective. Read more
Published 17 months ago by June Ahern
4.0 out of 5 stars Taught me a new appreciation for how good we have it
Although this novel is at times difficult to read because of the details of the story, it is a worthy read. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Serrena Jacobs
1.0 out of 5 stars Really??
The biggest mystery about this book is why there are so many great reviews. Like many others, I loved "The Piano Tuner". Read more
Published on April 22, 2012 by zsuzsanna22
1.0 out of 5 stars Never could get into it
I absolutely loved The Piano Tuner, so couldn't wait to get my hands on A Far Country. I read the first third of the book and just could not get into it. Read more
Published on February 23, 2011 by R. Jensen
3.0 out of 5 stars I think I liked it...
I have not read The Piano Tuner but I think I liked this book. But then when I really think about it I am not so sure. Read more
Published on August 23, 2009 by Faith Stein
5.0 out of 5 stars Achingly beautiful
This is a beautifully written book! It is very simply written, the accumulation of specific details sketching a reality that is very different than ours, and letting us enter into... Read more
Published on April 30, 2008 by algisk
4.0 out of 5 stars It's "remote" but does touch the heart
At first when reading "A Far Country" I was bothered by the fact that I really didn't know where this country was - it seems possibly South America, but the country remains... Read more
Published on April 10, 2008 by Mary Reinert
4.0 out of 5 stars Main character is very well written
This is a far different tale than the author's first, bestselling book, The Piano Tuner, although it shares some elements like the search through a jungle, and a sense of loss. Read more
Published on April 1, 2008 by Armchair Interviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-written, entertaining, but falls short
I really enjoyed this writer's prose. And the story has many engaging elements. But combined with the lackluster plot, it's hard to rate this novel any higher than one star above... Read more
Published on December 7, 2007 by Beach reader
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine story of a dangerous quest emerges, involving listeners in a...
Anne Twomey narrates this vivid story of a young girl's journey through an unnamed country in search of her brother. Read more
Published on September 7, 2007 by Midwest Book Review
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