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This Cold Country (Harvest Book) Paperback – June 1, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Davis-Goff, author of The Dower House, a New York Times Notable Book, and Walled Gardens, a memoir, plumbs her Irish roots once more in this tale about a young English woman adjusting to new social, political and class demands when she moves to Ireland during World War II. A volunteer in England's Land Army, Daisy Creed works on a farm in Wales. Given the rare wartime occasion to meet an eligible bachelor, she quickly marries Patrick Nugent, a distant Anglo-Irish cousin of her employer. In a matter of days, Patrick is called on duty and Daisy joins Patrick's family in Ireland. Gothic touches abound; the Nugents are eccentrics, their home full of mysteries and reminders of better days. Daisy's new family includes Corisande, a spoiled beauty growing bitter as she approaches middle age without a suitor; her mild-mannered brother, Mickey, who silently puts up with all in exchange for solitude; a grandmother who may or may not be in a coma. All are residents of Dunmaine, the family's overgrown, undermanaged estate. Through Daisy's dogged questioning, Davis-Goff gets at the reasons and implications behind Ireland's WWII neutrality. Daisy's queries are answered mainly by Mickey: As soon as there were two religions, it was all over for Ireland. Up until then the conquerors and colonists became enthusiastically Irish in about five minutes. These conversational, encyclopedic passages fill in blanks for readers who don't know their Irish history, but water down the already thin story. Davis-Goff is a talented writer, however, and there is much to appreciate here in the way of elegant prose and careful characterizations.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Daisy Creed, a land girl in World War II England, impetuously marries Patrick Nugent days before he is sent to France with his regiment. When she joins his family in County Waterford, she finds that the Nugent family home, like many of the old Anglo-Irish estates (and the aging aristocracy itself), has fallen into a state of decay. Its residents Patrick's grandmother, spoiled sister, and backward brother have mortgaged it to the hilt with no apparent regard for the future. Daisy carefully begins to assert her position as mistress of the house and to control expenses, eventually taking in paying guests. Her first guest is a recuperating British soldier who seduces her and then vanishes after the murder of a questionably Fascist local lord. This is yet another marvelous Anglo-Irish novel of manners by Davis-Goff (The Dower House); Daisy is a charming character, and the lush but languishing Irish landscape of the 1940s is the perfect setting for this wartime love story. A rich and satisfying read; highly recommended. Susan Clifford Braun, Aerospace Corp., El Segundo, CA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Harvest Book
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (June 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156027380
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156027380
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 8.2 x 5.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,190,368 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Even a bad plot can be saved by wonderful writing -- this book gave me no investment in anything going on.
Kyla
I kept thinking this elusive goal was just disappearing around the next page as I read, but I was never able to catch up to it.
thewritegurl
Perhaps not knowing how to conclude, the author wraps it up with cliches along the lines of "Nothing would ever be the same."
ARW

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By "dpoll00" on May 8, 2002
Format: Hardcover
A smart book with rich, mature writing. After a wave of gee-aren't-I-clever tomes, like "A Staggering Work of Heartbreaking Genius" and "The Corrections" I was thrilled to get this passed to me by a friend.
Davis-Goff is amusing and intelligent, telling a story of a young woman in a time and place that seems very far away and, in the shadow of recent world events, not that distant at the same time. This book is not packed with action, just wonderful words -- it will remind you why you like reading so much in the first place.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Joan Zaratian on September 13, 2006
Format: Paperback
I thought this novel was brilliant. The author captured the class consciousness that defined Britain well into the 20th century. Daisy recognizes her place in the social system;she feels slightly superior, as the daughter of educated parents,to the other WWII Land Girl, yet not completely at ease with the "landed gentry' she works for. While several reviewers berate Goff for not fully developing her characters, I would like to offer a Brit's perspective. In her defense, I believe the author, through her subtle character interactions,allows us to experience the insidiousness and ultimate downfall of a class system based on assumed nobility or old wealth. When Daisy finally figures out the desperate financial status of this gentrified family she has married into, she stands out in her bid to salvage the ancestral home by actually taking in paying guests, anathema to a social class that had relied on a good name and a forgiving feudal class to maintain an unrealistic standard of living. Daisy's entrepeneurship is in direct contrast to the family and others of that class who by their ineffectuality seem to invite their own demise.It is a harbinger of the social upheaval to come in Britain and the emergence of the middle class In many ways,Goff's writing reflects the understated style of Kazuo Ishiguro in the context of Remains of the Day, where there is also a maddening sense of non-resolution.It seems to me that an author can be just as judicious about leaving details out as including them. I believe Goff wanted her readers to reflect on the turmoil that war presents on both personal and political levels. And she used her characters well to demonstrate how the human spirit can cope or fail.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Annabel Davis-Goff wrote two wonderfully evocative books about her Irish roots-- "The Dower House" and "Walled Gardens." Unfortunately, she has either run out of material or she wrote "This Cold Country" in haste. We begin, for no apparent reason, following Daisy on a farm in Wales, where she works as a land girl. Rather quickly, she marries and moves to Ireland where she has to manage a very large house with little guidance. (Where are we but the familiar territory plumbed by Daphne DuMaurier in "Rebecca?") Questions about her asocial brother-in-law Mickey are never answered. (What's wrong with him? Does he really keep bats?) It's not clear why we sometimes veer from Daisy's point-of-view to enter the mind of her near-catatonic grandmother-in-law. And the atmosphere of the war years just doesn't ring quite true. (Does anyone in the entire novel smoke a cigarette?) The plot is thin and wrapped up in a perfunctory manner in the end. All in all, not Davis-Goff's best work despite a bit of really fine writing.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I read this over one weekend. Daisy Creed is like any good Austen heroine. She's plucky, determined, and Davis-Goff spices up rich writing with biting commentary on the manners and motivations of a different time and place. I can't say I knew anything about Ireland before I read the book. Now I want to go there. I just fear that sixty years after the action of this book takes place, I won't find what I'm looking for anywhere except in another novel.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By thewritegurl on October 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I picked up this title hoping to lose myself in an engrossing tale with some emotional intensity to it. Instead, I found myself asking over and over again, "Why am I still reading?" I am not familiar with Ms. Davis-Goff's other writings, so perhaps this was simply not her best effort. The story became duller and thinner as I continued to slog through the Irish mists which it attempts to invoke.
The beginning of the story drew me in, as the main character, 20-year old Daisy Creed, finds her life suddenly altered by the coming of war. Sadly, as soon as Daisy marries and moves to Ireland the narrative becomes attenuated to the point that I lost sympathy for her and her eccentric in-laws. The author's attempts to insert short snippets of Irish history into the narrative were annoying and not sufficiently illuminating for a reader who comes to the story without a background knowledge of the subject. There were also some careless flaws in sentence structure that left me wondering whether anyone read the proofs before publication.
Handled more carefully, this story might have been full of a subtle, haunting ambience. I kept thinking this elusive goal was just disappearing around the next page as I read, but I was never able to catch up to it. The title says it all. Frustrating.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By B. Dowling on January 1, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book started well with Daisy, working as a landgirl, meeting Patrick whom she marries in a short time. After moving to his ancestral home in S. Ireland, she meets his rather odd family and finds out the family are in dire financial straits. There is a murder which is never solved in the book, also can Daisy resurrect her marriage eventually? There are other events never fully explained which left me feeling unsatisfied. I searched to find out if the author had written a sequel which would explain what happened to all the characters, but there is none. The book starts at the beginning of World War 2 in 1940 and ends in 1942 so everything is left hanging in the plot. Not a good ending.
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