As late summer steals in and the final pearls of barley are gleaned, a village comes under threat. Over the course of seven days, Walter Thirsk sees his hamlet unmade: the manor house set on fire, the harvest blackened, three new arrivals punished, and his neighbours accused of witchcraft. But something even darker is at the heart of his story, and he will be the only man left to tell it…
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A good (maybe great) book poorly read
This timeless narrative is very well written, with evocative descriptions of a rural English world that is long gone but deeply embedded in our cultural psyche. I enjoyed it while listening to this short book, but have been surprised how much it has stuck with me - I've often found myself thinking back on it.
The reading performance I found distractingly bad - possibly the worst I've experienced yet. I found his voice and some of his pronunciations (e.g. 'manny' instead of 'many') irritating, and whenever he did a voice for a character he seemed to put on the same exaggerated squeeky village simpleton voice. This is clearly a matter of taste though, as others have rated the performance highly.
I've read/listened to 3 of the 6 books on the 2013 Booker shortlist so far, and I think this would have been a worthy winner.
- Peter Hope-Jones