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Our Picnics in the Sun: A Novel Hardcover – November 26, 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press (November 26, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385342764
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385342766
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #877,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Praise for Our Picnics in the Sun
“The British writer’s latest is a psychological dazzler.”Entertainment Weekly

Praise for Morag Joss’s Among the Missing
“This remarkable novel has an abundance of suspense at its core, put forth in beautiful prose that all but glows on the page. . . . [Joss] keeps a jittery tension going as the novel spins toward its violent, grand-scaled finale.”Booklist (starred review)
“A haunting, harrowing punch to the heart, Among the Missing is flat-out brilliant. About the secrets we keep, the lives we are desperate to live, and the chances we miss, it’s a psychological dazzler. Truly, one of my favorite books of this year—or any year.”—Caroline Leavitt, author of Is This Tomorrow
“Morag Joss is a writer who knows the old truth that genuine suspense comes not from car chases or gunplay but from the clash of conflicting hearts. Among the Missing is evidence not of a rising talent but of one already fully formed.”—Thomas H. Cook, author of Sandrine’s Case
“A spectacular psychological thriller . . . Joss’s beautiful, evocative novel is filled with tension and suspense.”RT Book Reviews

About the Author

Morag Joss is the author of several novels, including Among the Missing and the CWA Silver Dagger winner Half Broken Things, which was also adapted as a film for U.K. national television. In 2008 she was the recipient of a Heinrich Böll Fellowship, and in 2009 she was nominated for an Edgar Award for her sixth novel, The Night Following.

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More About the Author

Visit Morag's website at www.moragjoss.com

Morag Joss grew up on the west coast of Scotland. She read English at St Andrews University and then studied singing at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London.
In 1996 she won an award in a national competition with her first short story. Starting to write was, she says, "discovering a lifelong ambition I didn't know I had."
The first of her three Sara Selkirk novels, FUNERAL MUSIC, was nominated for a Dilys Award by the American Independent Mystery Booksellers Association. She's also the author the 2003 Silver Dagger winner HALF BROKEN THINGS, which was adapted for UK national television and starred Penelope Wilton (available on DVD), and of THE NIGHT FOLLOWING, which won an Edgar Allan Poe Award nomination for Best Novel 2009.
Morag Joss was a Heinrich Böll writer in residence on Achill Island, Ireland, in 2008, where she wrote part of her seventh novel, AMONG THE MISSING, due for USA publication in autumn 2010.

Customer Reviews

Her writing style is lush and eloquent.
Tom S.
I really do not like when I have to read 150 pages before a story gets good, and I am quitting this much sooner.
Amazon Customer
And yet there is love and hope, that may or may not save them, but is meaningful and good.
Lily Rose

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
A moody drama set in the desolate English moors, Joss captures perfectly the atmosphere of a couple trapped in the sunset years of their younger expectation, when Deborah eagerly followed Howard Morgan’s vision to leave the city and return to the land, live frugally and wisely from the bounty of their own hard work. They rent a holding in Exmoor, agree to keep a small flock of sheep, a clutch of laying hens, a few rooms dedicated to a Bed and Breakfast to bring in extra income. The attrition of time, fate and a stroke that has robbed Howard of much of his ability has defined their days differently of late, Deborah’s chores made more difficult by the tedium of care for her husband. Still, she tries to keep up her spirits, traveling to town and the library for email exchanges with their son, Adam, who works far away and seldom visits. When the novel opens, Deborah is caught up in the anticipation of Adam’s birthday visit and the annual picnic the family takes on the moors, a ritual kept whether Adam comes home or not.

A customer appears at the door demanding accommodation for himself and a friend on the eve of Adam’s visit, Deborah imposed upon despite her reluctance, a complication that exacerbates her disappointment when Adam fails to arrive. The visitor’s rude note the following day startles Deborah into examining the true state of the house, the decay and lack of care that have crept in over too many days, too many years. Drifting between the present and memories that linger from the past, Deborah unlocks her quietude, words that escape her determined resistance, memories cluttering the already crowded terrain of a harried existence.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By TChris TOP 100 REVIEWER on December 2, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
A bursting blood vessel in Howard Morgan's head and his wife's fall from a ladder set the stage in Our Picnics in the Sun, Morag Joss' story of an aging couple in South West England. The action resumes three years later. Point of view shifts between Howard, who struggles with speech and mobility, and Deborah, who is neglecting their sheep and barely tending to Stoneyridge, their decaying bed-and-breakfast. We also see Howard and Deborah from the point of view of Adam, their 28-year-old son working abroad, who is determined to avoid them as much as he can. An unexpected guest named Theo seeks accommodation at Stoneyridge on Adam's birthday and eventually insinuates himself into the Morgan family drama, sparking changes in the attitudes and interactions of the Morgan clan while forcing Deborah (and, indirectly, Howard) to confront the feelings they have kept hidden from each other, and possibly from themselves, since Adam's birth.

Our Picnics in the Sun is about the essential role that kind treatment of our children and parents and spouses plays in a healthy existence. But the novel also helps us understand why kindness so easily disappears, why we sometimes struggle to bestow it upon the people we love. Neither Howard nor Deborah are ideal parents or spouses, and Adam is less than an ideal son, but it is easy to feel sympathy for all of them. Howard, a controlling twit who has devoted much of his self-absorbed spiritualistic life to bearing a well-deserved sense of guilt, is now a mind trapped in a dysfunctional body, incapable of articulating his thoughts, often experiencing inexpressible hunger and cold, regretting all the years that he refused to notice Deborah "fading and slipping away from him.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By the GreatReads! TOP 500 REVIEWER on December 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Our Picnics in the Sun by Morag Joss captures the life and travails of Deborah and Howard Morgan who lead an idealistic life, eking out a living in Stoneyridge, deep in the England moors, with their son Adam. But when Adam leaves to pursue a career, things take a drastic change for the couple. Their pathetic condition worsened when Howard suffers an incapacitating stroke, rendering Deborah just to the role of a caregiver. The Morgans forget their pottery, their animals and their property. It is indeed a sad time for them. Everything is in ruins.

Deborah endurance reaches its limit as she becomes more and more frustrated with the life she is limited to. The kind of life she is living now is a far cry from the starry dreams they had when she and Howard first decided to live in the country. Our Picnics in the Sun is truly a sad and thoughtful story of a marriage and unfulfilled emotional lives.

Adam is also raging with discontentment. His anger drives him far away from home, little knowing that his parents are in a pathetic condition. He is frustrated with the inadequacy of his homeschooling education, the countryside, the terrible winters, food, and almost everything. He is angry at his parents, and at the way they brought him up.

There is a foreboding sense of looming danger when two guests arrive needing a room one stormy night. One of them leaves in the morning but the other, a young man named Theo, who is about Adam's age stays behind. Our Picnics in the Sun is a tale of love and loss, it is a story of the trivial disillusionments which plug our lives and hinder us from moving forward. The book is full of multifaceted characters, many of them obsessed with idealistic dreams which render them powerless to direct the course of their destiny.
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