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Under the Harrow Hardcover – September 7, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 350 pages
  • Publisher: Macadam Cage Pub (September 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596923695
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596923690
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,696,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Dingley Dell is a self-contained valley peopled by orphans, whose guardians abandoned them with only an encyclopedia and the works of Charles Dickens. From these beginnings comes a Victorian society whose limited trade with outsiders raises more question than it answers. Those who leave rarely return or are considered mad. The beginning drags a bit as the residents try to figure out what the reader already knows, but the tide turns and comes in fast once a runaway returns to the valley. Scribe-for-hire Trimmers and his friends, amateur sleuths disguised as a poetry society, discover that their strange world will come to a quick and bloody end unless they act. This sometimes perplexing but well-executed tale winds up feeling like a surprisingly hardy crossbreed of Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell and Eric Flint's 1632. (Dec.)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Dickens lovers, rejoice! Dunn (Ella Minnow Pea, 2002) folds a nineteenth-century writing style into a delightfully original story spiced with wonderfully evocative names and personalities from the Dickens oeuvre. Every word in this leisurely paced treasure is meant to be savored. Every scene is a theatrical masterpiece, providing plentiful opportunity to bark with laughter, raise eyebrows in amazement, and sigh in despair. Dingley Dell, hidden in backcountry Pennsylvania, proceeds in its anachronistic Victorian style as an experiment begun decades ago, when Darwinian scientists wanted to know how a small society would evolve, given no new input from the outside world. Unaware of their true role in a larger scheme, people in the Dell are informed that a horrible plague has occurred, and they are to be quarantined for safety. Government corruption, greed, classism, and distrust are at the center of this story, told by Dell resident Frederick Trimmers, Esq., for the edification of Outlanders. Dingley Dell is truly “under the harrow”—that is, under fire—its residents the victims of a most dastardly deception. Similar to Orwell’s Animal Farm, with a hint of Jasper Fforde, this story will make you think and laugh at the same time. --Jen Baker

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Eyre on September 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Another absolutely fantastic book from Mark Dunn. I read this and "Feral Park" within the same week- both of these books are amazing both in the way they mock the tropes of the original literature and in the way they readdress issues brought out in the original writings.

While there a lot of references and "in-jokes" that touch on the work of Dickens, don't let that put you off from reading this. If you haven't touched Dickens since college, you'll still enjoy this book- Dunn writes characters with depth and movement, and his pacing is fantastic.

As a huge fan of Victorian literature, I couldn't be happier with this- unless Dunn based a book around Thomas Hardy, that is.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Alyson D on November 9, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the premise and language of this book. A group of orphans in an isolated valley woke up one day to find all of the adults gone. They had only an Encyclopedia Britannica, 9th edition (from 1890), a Bible, a book of poetry and the complete works of Dickens. The names and language used within Dingley Dell are straight from Dickens. Their community developed with no contact with others outside of their valley except for very limited trade. 100+ years later, some of the citizens start to suspect that there is more to their story. Why did one woman jump to her death? Why are those who return from the Outland locked away with no contact allowed with their families? The story is told by a resident of the Dell so his word choices and references and spelling are old fashioned. (My kindle dictionary was put to good use!) Overall, a very enjoyable book and I look forward to reading more by Mark Dunn.
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By Lesli from Rockport, TX on March 15, 2013
Format: Paperback
This is the best book I've read in a long time. It took a little while to get used to the Dickensian(?) language, but so worth it. In a way, both this book and Ella Minnow Pea are fantasies in a relatable, understandable world. Every character and plot twist made sense. I did not want to leave Dingley Dell. I will read everything else Mark Dunn has written.
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By Buttercup61 on January 7, 2013
Format: Paperback
This book was a great pleasure to read--its style put me in mind of reading Dickens years ago. This story was a LOT more fun to read than Dickens (I did not enjoy the drawn-out tales of Victorian folk), so don't let that keep you from checking it out. The characters were well-wrought and the plot/setting was excellently drawn. The humor is subtle but great, just as it should be. Language use is superb; you might want to read it on a Kindle so you can use the dictionary function for words that are a bit arcane, but spot-on for the setting. My only (very slight) criticism is with the ending, which I won't divulge, but I think I might have opted for something less predictable.
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