Wednesday, 20 February 2013


Finished February 20
Harvest by Jim Crace

This novel is set at a remote village in England at some unspecified time in the pre-industrial age. It is a time when sheep are becoming a more prominent fixture on farming estates, and there is a movement of workers from rural to urban areas. A time of change.
In this remote estate, Walter Thirsk is a bit of a misfit. He came to the estate as a young man with his master as a result of his master's marriage. He married a local estate worker, and tried to fit in. Now he is aging, his own wife has died, as has his master's wife, and change is coming. This harvest season a man has come to the estate and is working on a chart of the land and its features. Master Kent asks Walter to assist this man, and Walter learns in confidence that the estate will be converted to sheep farming.
One morning the workers awake to two fires. One is the master's stable and dovecote, and the other the fire burned by newly arrived workers, a traditional sign of occupancy recognized as a right to stay. Even though signs point to some local men as being responsible for the stable fire, the blame is placed on the newcomers, and that act and its subsequent repercussions result in a drastic change in the lives of the workers, as much as the coming change to the farming itself.
Walter is both removed and a part of this settlement, and finds himself distanced and able to describe the course of events as both an outsider and as a vital part of the community.
A novel of change and choices.

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