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The Lie of the Land Hardcover – June 15, 2017
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Craig is a social commentator and author with a sharp, satirical eye -- Anthony Horowitz an ingenious plot and a literally breathtaking denouement. Whether you are urban or rural, there is much here to keep you engrossed; often with a wince of self-awareness -- Keren David * Jewish Chronicle * As we watch the Bredin family tumble down the property ladder out of the city to the shock of country life, Amanda Craig fearlessly and faultlessly dissects our 21st century life capturing all the anxieties and absurdities of austerity era Britain. We are left simultaneously laughing and cringing as we can't fail to see ourselves in the lives of those portrayed in The Lie of the Land. Like all great fiction, it embraces us with a brilliant story while holding up an unflinching mirror asking questions of ourselves * Roland Gulliver, Associate Director, Edinburgh International Book Festival * You have a treat in store when you read the witty and insightful new novel by Amanda Craig. I just *love* The Lie of the Land, on so many levels. Land works as a rollicking narrative, a forensic examination of a marriage many will recognise, a skilful portrayal of rural poverty (spiritual as well as economic) and a serious evocation of the way humans can change * Bel Moooney * A marvellously readable novel, written with great humour and spark, but also social heart and central relevance to the way we live now. To achieve both in one is a terrific - and uncommon * Caroline Sanderson, the Bookseller * Amanda Craig is one of the most brilliant and entertaining novelists now working in Britain and her range of sympathy and humor and understanding of the Way We Live Now are deeply impressive * Alison Lurie * I loved the The Lie of the Land. A panoramic, superbly-plotted novel about the ways we live now, about money and desire, cruelty and generosity, crime and vengeance, country and city. Craig is at the top of her game in the sweep of her storytelling, the richness of her characters, her black comedy, irony and commitment * Helen Dunmore * More than just a state-of-the-nation dispatch: it is also a clear-eyed yet unfailingly compassionate examination of a long marriage...As generous and wise as it is witty and incisive, this novel is the timeliest of page-turners * The Lady * Startlingly vivid and affecting . . . impressively nuanced and ultimately moving * Literary Review * Sharply satirical * Observer * A clever, pacy and well-observed novel * Sunday Express * Craig writes with intelligence and humour and she is curious about the world * New Statesman * A hugely entertaining black comedy and psychological thriller rolled into one * Saga * A hugely readable book packed with incident gradually turns into a rich and revealing portrait of contemporary Britain * Readers Digest * There is powerful nature writing here, as well as social satire. Think James Rebanks's The Shepherd's Life, but with sex, politics, malice, murder and Le Creuset saucepans . . . Craig is whetstone-sharp . . . ingenious. I was sure I'd solved it, but Craig is clever at herding you in the wrong direction with feints and false leads * Spectator * Craig's finger is on the nation's pulse in this sharply perceived family drama * Woman & Home * A great novelist, with an extraordinary mixture of deep compassion for humanity and a witheringly satirical eye, Amanda Craig shows us the reality, through the eyes of her expertly drawn characters -- Ysenda Maxtone Graham * Country Life * Companionable, deceptively lightly written novel that uses a marriage-in-crisis plot to expose the fault lines in post EU referendum Britain * Metro * This clever novel, with its dollop of state-of-the-nation reflection, is timely * Mail on Sunday * Craig's humour is truthful and easygoing, and she's even-handed to both the weird Devonians and xrass urban "incomers". Just as in Cold Comfort Farm, there is something nasty in the woodshed * Vogue * A wily novel turns the country idyll on its head...This is a novel that pulls in all sorts of directions but keeps in sight that people are always capable of change * Guardian * Craig's energetic satire of middle-class manners segues seamlessly into edge-of-the-seat murder mystery * Daily Mail * an assured tale of rural disillusionment... An enjoyable, sharp-witted and at times knowingly melodramatic novel, it lives up to the promise of its title * Financial Times * It's a hell of a novel - dark, gripping and beautifully written -- Alex Preston * Observer * Connoisseurs of schadenfreude will love this cautionary tale * Mail on Sunday * Like those great, state-of-the-nation chroniclers Balzac and Dickens, she perceives how all levels of society are unwittingly interconnected. In The Lie of the Land, she assembles a cracking cast of characters...If Evelyn Waugh had a social conscience and liked children, he could have been Craig -- Allison Pearson * Sunday Telegraph * Amanda Craig's new novel delivers wit, mysteries and a dark commentary on the differences between life in the London bubble and the rest of the country * Daily Mail * A gripping, compassionate and often funny take on a cross-section of Britain that fiction tends to overlook. In the end, it is good to get out of London * Sunday Times * There is much to relish here. The sharp characters, the smooth grown-up prose, the irony, and the ability to weave warmth and dark honesty like few other novelists can. A very good read indeed -- Matt Haig Terrific, page-turning, slyly funny -- India Knight * Sunday Times * --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Amanda Craig is a well-known journalist and broadcaster. She is the author of A VICIOUS CIRCLE and IN A DARK WOOD. You can visit her website a www.amandacraig.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Genre: General Fiction
Usually novels I read have romance somewhere, but I like to read stories that stretch me a bit, make me think "what if" and some of them, as this one does, come under a General Fiction heading. What if Quentin hadn't had affairs, what if there hadn't been a recession, what if Xan had got into his chosen uni? As for down in Devon, there's any number of What Ifs that would change things hugely.
I really, really didn't like Quentin for at least the first half of the book. He's like a big kid - its always someone else' fault, he's a man, can't be expected to be faithful, he can't help his straying ways etc. etc..
Ugh, I hate hearing that, and it made me wonder what Lottie ever saw in him. Xan seems to hate him now, calls him Dud, which made me snigger. Yet from what we read he idolised him until recently, much his two younger hald sisters still do.
Poor Lottie, they can't even afford a divorce. Quentin is moaning all the while but it seems she's the one making sacrifices, getting things to work, dealing with day to day issues, the kids, the house, the lack of money, while he keeps swanning back to London in pursuit of another job, another story, another woman.
He's acting like one of those awful men who still imagine they're single and what they're doing won't hurt anyone....
When we look deeper into their backstories though its not quite so cut and dried. He still makes me angry, I still think he's appalling as a husband and father, but do understand him and his actions a little better.
There's a subtle danger in the so called peace of their retreat though, and they find out the countryside has claws, and its not all rural idyll, bohemian joy and rhapsody, but dreary, damp, dark and dangerous...and that danger comes knocking very, very close to home.
Some of it I'd guessed from the story but not all, there's a really tangled web to unravel.
There are some great characters here, ones that felt so real, as if I could know them.
The descriptions of country life are spot on at times too, work in factories as grim as Humbles does abound, minimum wage, long hours, zero hours contracts, no regard for safety and no job security.
There are few other jobs in the countryside though. Work is mind numblingly boring, life is hard to cope with, and we see just how so many different families are doing that, most people simply struggling day to day, and a select few are thriving. It's not just Lottie and Quentin that are having issues, both work and personal, but others that hide their struggles carefully behind a public face. The old UK Putting a Brave Face on, Stiff Upper Lip and all that.
Its not a story I'd reread, very uncomfortable at times, but one which I enjoyed as a one off, one that made me really think about the characters and situations.
What would I have done if I was Lottie? Not let him back home is my first thought, but then he's a good dad to the girls, was good to Xan when they first got together, and of course she's the memory of that man and the hope he'll come back to her.
Will he though, or are the changes too much?
Stars: four, a fascinating read into what can happen to those affected by financial issues, marital issues, jealousy, unplanned pregnancies, lack of quality/well paid work...
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers
Amanda Craig threads a number of contrasting themes through her novel: country v. concrete, of course. But also infidelity and blind loyalty, academia and practical life experiences, motherhood and careers, perfection and human flaws, ambition and acceptance, and inevitably given the bucolic setting, nature versus nurture. She’s very good on the descriptive prose and is convincing on the charm (and reality) of living in the countryside.
I wasn’t sold on the perfect Lottie who failed to come alive for me but I did rather adore the fact that she called her German-born mother “Mutti” – what an appealing word! For me, the book picked up whenever Quentin hove into view. And who could resist Xan whose caring character gives youth a good name? This novel grew on me more and more before descending into “something nasty in the woodshed” territory. An enjoyable, undemanding read that also raises some interesting aspects of human behaviour and how life events force us to evolve.
Once settled in, Lottie tries her best to embrace the quieter life. Finding friends, doing up the cottage a bit and basically getting on with things. Quentin however craves his old life, the glamour and glitz of journalism, his affairs, his life in London. Sadly, he has to satisfy himself with a small column in the local rag. With their two youngest enrolling in the local school, Lottie's son Xan finds himself a zero hours contract at the local pie factory, working for minimum wage alongside foreign workers. Their only luxury being a cleaner, employed by Quentin to do his share of the chores, her slightly strange daughter tagging along with her.
We also meet local health worker Sally and follow her as she visits new mothers, her emotions torn and sad at her own childlessness. And then there's Lottie's landlord, an ageing rock star and his family. Where exactly do they come into the mix of things and, going back, why exactly is their cottage so cheap to rent. There are a load more characters in our cast here but I think it's best you get to know them yourself at the right times.
Oh my, I do seem to have painted a doom and gloom picture of this book but it really isn't. There is always that element of hope bubbling underneath all the face value sadness. The way that Lottie's strength comes through when she finally decides what's right for her. Xan's decisions regarding his future. There's also Quentin's dogged determination to get to the bottom of the secrets of the cottage. It's a well informed, well presented snapshot into the trials and tribulations of a family just trying to keep going. I have never been in most of the situations the characters in the book found themselves in, but I found that there was plenty for me to connect/relate to and empathise with so that I felt close to what was going on.
As well as the sociopolitical undertones of the book, we also have the mystery to solve. Every so often going back to that story to discover another clue, add another layer of intrigue until, towards the end of the book, the truth starts to come out and boy is it bigger and more wide-spread than I ever saw coming.
It's a more slower paced book than I am used to but the pace fits the story perfectly. The tension builds up nicely as more is revealed about certain characters. Sometimes this information being sat with for a fair while until it is brought up again and expanded on, and that's OK, reflects real life perfectly.
I have already touched on the characters but I have to say that they were the best thing about this book. It's as if, once created, they took on a life of their own and dictated the rest of their stories. To say this book is character driven would be a gross understatement. I think I connected to each and every one in some way. Even the smallest part players had their parts to play and they did them very well. Anyone who knows me knows that I do love character driven books when done well; like here.
All in all, a thoroughly satisfying read that I am still thinking about several days after finishing. It's the first book I have read by this author but I hope to rectify that as soon as possible.
My thanks go to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book.