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103 of 109 people found the following review helpful
Born in 1926, Thomas Tryon first came to public attention as an actor in such films as I MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE and the popular television series TEXAS JOHN SLAUGHTER--but Tryon's acting career began to falter in the early 1960s. Fortunately, he turned to writing and discovered his true calling: the 1971 novel THE OTHER was a critical and popular sensation, easily one of the best psychological horror novels of the decade. He followed it in 1973 with equally lauded and popular HARVEST HOME.

Read today, it easy to foresee several of the major plots of HARVEST HOME--but this is largely because so many later novelists (including Stephen King) borrowed so liberally from the novel. Still, there's nothing like the original, and in 1973 the book was all of that, the tale of a New York couple with a difficult teenager daughter who decide to trade the crime-ridden cityscape for countryside peace... and stumble into a rural nightmare that makes a metropolitan crime wave seem tame by comparison.

Cornwall Coombe is a tiny, isolated village, the sort of place where everyone is related to everyone else by blood or marriage or sometimes both. It is also a community that clings to "the old ways," rejecting most modern agricultural ideas--not to mention newcomers to the area. As it happens, however, Ned and Beth Constantine and their daughter are smiled upon by the Widow Fortune, a woman who holds tremendous sway in the community, and as time passes they are accepted.

But into what? For it soon transpires that the "old ways" include a number of odd superstitions, all of them centering on the cycle of seasons and the area's corn crop. At first Ned is amused, then curious--but the more he learns the more disturbing the superstitions and traditions become. And unsavory stories abound: the strange grave of Gracie Everdean, the mystery of Missy Penrose's parentage, the ghost of "Soake's Lonesome"--and always, always the corn crop itself.

The novel can be criticized for the occasional plot or character inconsistency, and as previously noted the basic premise has been so often repeated that much of the plot can be foreseen. Even so, it is a tremendously readable novel, atmospheric and truly disturbing, and while it does not best Tryon's THE OTHER (which remains his masterpiece), HARVEST HOME is uniquely memorable in its own right.

Sadly, Tryon would die in 1991, having written only a handful of novels; amazingly, most of his works--including THE OTHER and HARVEST HOME--are out of print. But like THE OTHER, HARVEST HOME is well worth seeking out. Recommended.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2007
My mom read this book right after she finished high school and still had it in the bookshelf by the time I was in high school. I read it one day when I had nothing else to read and finished it the same night. Yikes! Really creepy for a 15 year old with an active imagination to read. Fifteen years later I still think about it though I have yet to re-read it. Excellent book.
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40 of 45 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICEon November 18, 2006
This is an exceptionally well written chiller. It takes place in Cornwall Coombe, a seemingly bucolic little hamlet in New England. It is to this idyllic locale that Ned Constantine, his wife, Beth, and their teenage daughter, Kate, move.

Ned had quit his job as an advertising executive in New York City and was now a professional artist, having established a studio in which to paint on his newly purchased property. In love with the three hundred year old house that they had unexpectedly been able to purchase, he and his family settled down to what he hoped would be a tranquil existence.

Alas, this was not to be. The town's very being revolved around ancient rituals dictated by the corn crop, and the town's ways were old ways. Its bucolic setting was deceptive, as there existed a malignancy that was becoming all too apparent to Ned. It was a feeling, however, that neither his wife nor daughter shared.

Cornwall Coombe was a town seemingly controlled by the Widow Fortune, an old woman with a knack for healing. The town had a secret, and its insular townspeople were all in on it. Ned was determined to discover what that secret was, even if it were to his detriment. He ultimately finds that some secrets are best left undiscovered.

This is a beautifully written book, almost lyrical in the telling. The author has a distinct gift for storytelling, and the tale that he weaves is spellbinding, as well as chilling. It is a tale that is sure to keep the reader riveted.
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42 of 48 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 4, 2005
Thomas Tryon, an actor turned author, crafted one of the finest real horror novels of the latter half of the 20th century with The Other. With Harvest Home, he took us again into the realms of real horror - horror that doesn't involve monsters, but the people right next door.

While Harvest Home borrows from historic horror authors such as H.P. Lovecraft and Stevenson, Tryon treads new ground for the modern novel. Harvest Home (1973) demonstrated to many modern authors (Stephen King and Peter Straub both acknowledge borrowing heavily from Tryon) how horror novels don't have to contain creatures or aliens to be scary.

Harvest Home is the story of a young couple who move to a remote hamlet in New England, known as Harvest Home. The village has chosen to remain isolated over the years. While not Quaker or Amish, the feeling is similar. The residents are all either related to or married to other residents of the village. The residents are not too welcoming of outsiders.

When the Widow Fortune takes a liking to the family, the town eases its defenses and also embraces them. The problem is that there is something sinister running amok in the village. There is something creepy going on during the corn harvest....

When you read this novel, you have to be able to imagine yourself in a time before Stephen King's novels (because he crafted several novels and stories based on material he gleaned from this book)...a time before modern horror cinema had bastardized all the really unique ideas that Tryon laid out in this book.

The novel was another best seller for Tryon. It also spawned a film, albeit a made-for-TV film. It was a huge hit for the network, because almost everyone at the time had read the novel AND it starred the inimitable Bette Davis as the Widow Fortune.

Get this novel through hook or crook and allow your mind to go back in time....and prepare to be scared.

Not as good as "The Other," but certainly a worthy follow-up to it.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2006
"Harvest Home" is a novel that has haunted me since I first had the pleasure of reading it two decades ago. Thomas Tryon is a wonderfully descriptive writer whose elegant turn of phrase makes this novel a memorable horror story told in a very light way.

This is a horror story. What can be more horrible than what Ned Constantine, the narrator/protagonist of the story had to witness during the climax of the novel? There is a great element of greek tragedy present in this novel as each main character has a tragic flaw that determines his or her fate. With Ned, it is his insatiable curiosity, with his wife Beth, the fear of men due to her domineering father and the daughter Kate, her frailty as a result of living with constant stress, the result of the hustle of NYC life and the tensions between her parents.

The Constantines move to Cornwall Coombe, a hamlet in Connecticut nominally under the rule of the benign yet forbidding Widow Fortune. The Constantines are initially amazed at the archaic lifestyle of the villagers but the women soon involve themselves and grow to love the rustic ways of the village. Ned, to his misfortune, rejects the charms of the villagers and their ways and moves to undermine the widow through his encouraging of the dissatisfied young Harvest Lord, Worthy Pettinger, escape to a better life and his obsessive quest to solve the msyery of what happened to the disgraced Gracie Everdeen, a young village woman who allegedly caused years of famine for the village by cursing the corn.

There are tales of adultery, legend and subtle violence throughout the novel which works so well because the reader cannot fully empathize with any character. Tryon has fleshed out his characters so well, and his description of the village life and countryside is so lyrical that a reader cannot help but fall in love with this book and be haunted by the ingenious plot for years to come.

A great novel by a great writer. A novel that transcends the horror field to rank with those of Faulkner and Dickey.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 12, 2011
A perfect book to curl up with on a gray autumn day, Harvest Home is gracefully written, with a formal and classic narrative voice more characteristic of turn-of-the-century fiction than a 1973 horror novel. You feel assured by the reasonableness of Ned Constantine, the narrator, and learn to trust his level assessment of the strange goings-on in the isolated New England village where he and his family have escaped to from crime-ridden New York City. At the time of the book's release in 1973, there was indeed a serious back-to-the-land movement of educated city-bred intellectuals migrating to the romance, purity and safety of the countryside. As in real life, many of these city folk discovered the dark side of rural life, albeit not to the degree of Ned Constantine, who is slowly seduced by the beauty and charm of Cornwall Coombe, only to find its surface civilization a shade away from the paganism of Medieval Druids. It is precisely because this story could actually take place in reality that makes it so horrifying. It is not probable that a rural community would embrace such extremes of pagan worship, but after all, we realize our beloved holidays of Halloween, Christmas, and Easter are borne from primitive practices, and we are not so far removed from these practices ourselves. Thomas Tryon embeds in his hero the deep, pre-conscious fear of The Feminine, including the fear of castration (here symbolized by cutting out the tongue), and of being tamed and indeed rendered impotent by female domesticity and desire. Freud would indeed have a field day here, as well as feminists who recognize the early-70s male anxiety of women taking over the workplace as well as the home. The intense power of Tryon's storytelling transcends any traces of misogyny in the narrative. The true horror of the concluding section, a climax carefully prepared for by Tryon with a slow build (quite appropriate for the deceptively peaceful setting) will still shock you even if you can see it coming a mile away. Such is the skill of a masterful craftsman who has us in his power from the first word to the last.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICEon November 21, 2001
This is an exceptionally well written chiller. It takes place in Cornwall Coombe, a seemingly bucolic little hamlet in New England. It is to this idyllic locale that Ned Constantine, his wife, Beth, and their teenage daughter, Kate, move.
Ned had quit his job as an advertising executive in New York City and was now a professional artist, having established a studio in which to paint on his newly purchased property. In love with the three hundred year old house that they had unexpectedly been able to purchase, he and his family settled down to what he hoped would be a tranquil existence.
Alas, this was not to be. The town's very being revolved around ancient rituals dictated by the corn crop, and the town's ways were old ways. Its bucolic setting was deceptive, as there existed a malignancy that was becoming all too apparent to Ned. It was a feeling, however, that neither his wife nor daughter shared.
Cornwall Coombe was a town seemingly controlled by the Widow Fortune, an old woman with a knack for healing. The town had a secret, and its insular townspeople were all in on it. Ned was determined to discover what that secret was, even if it were to his detriment. He ultimately finds that some secrets are best left undiscovered.
This is a beautifully written book, almost lyrical in the telling. The author has a distinct gift for storytelling, and the tale that he weaves is spellbinding, as well as chilling. It is a tale that is sure to keep the reader riveted.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 5, 2007
This creepy novel is a favorite of mine, and the ending is one that stays with you long after you've put the book down. From the opening pages of Harvest Home, as we meet one interesting character after another, the reader cannot help but feel an anxious dread that all is not well in Cornwall Combe, even as the narrator -- Ned Constantine -- and his family eagerly try to adapt themselves to the 'old ways' of the isolated New England village. But like a character in a Greek tragedy, Ned is driven to uncover the mysteries of the place no matter where they lead; and what seems at first an innocuous question ("What happened to poor Gracie Everdean?"), leads inexorably from one disturbing disclosure to the next. So much of what we heard and saw in the earlier parts of the tale come back to haunt us in the closing pages -- that delicious "so THAT'S what that meant" moment of insight a good writer gives the reader at story's end. Harvest Home is best read in late fall ... when the skies are overcast, the air musty with decay and the corn is just coming in from the fields ...
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2003
harvest home can still give me chills nearly 30 years after first reading it. living in connecticut, not far south of saxony, cornwall and kent (yes-- they're all real connecticut towns) i drag out my dog-eared copy every halloweentime and silently carp at ned constantine to stay out of the woods. does anyone else out there think, as i do, that sophie hooke did not hang herself but was also murdered quietly by the widow, so that beth could step in to the corn maiden role and have the opportunity to get pregnant according to the widow's "plan" (sophie claimed to be diseased in the conversation she'd had with justin. the widow would know that bit of medical info and wouldn't want to take a chance on a blighted corn maiden or pregancy.) just a thought. on the other hand, maybe i've just read the book too often!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2000
...I ordered this through an auction on Amazon. I am so glad that I did. I remember the TV movie, from 1978, because my mother loves horror stories. I also read the book, for an English class, when I was a senior in high school. I am half way through it, and just as intrigued, if not more than when I read it the first time. I had forgotten a lot--well, I graduated from high back in the '80's. I can barely put the book down. Thomas Tryon is a master at writing---the descriptions that he uses are uncanny. He is an excellent writer with great ideas. The character of Widow Fortune is unforgettable. If you have a chance to read this book, and you love horror and suspense. Go for it!
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