Quentin and Lottie Bredin, like many modern couples, can’t afford to divorce. Having lost their jobs in the recession, they can’t afford to go on living in London; instead, they must downsize and move their three children to a house in a remote part of Devon. Arrogant and adulterous, Quentin can’t understand why Lottie is so angry; devastated and humiliated, Lottie feels herself to have been intolerably wounded.
Mud, mice, and quarrels are one thing – but why is their rent so low? What is the mystery surrounding their unappealing new home? The beauty of the landscape is ravishing, yet it conceals a dark side involving poverty, revenge, abuse and violence which will rise up to threaten them.
Sally Verity, happily married but unhappily childless knows a different side to country life, as both a Health Visitor and a sheep farmer’s wife; and when Lottie’s innocent teenage son Xan gets a zero-hours contract at a local pie factory, he sees yet another. At the end of their year, the lives of all will be changed for ever.
A suspenseful black comedy, this is a rich, compassionate and enthralling novel in its depiction of the English countryside and the potentially lethal interplay between money and marriage.
Although it stands alone, it continues Amanda Craig’s sequence of novels featuring inter-connected characters which illuminate aspects of contemporary life. It is the work of a writer at the height of her powers.
I actually got to spend a full day at the festival on Wednesday, which was wonderful. Very luckily as I was looking at events I noticed that Amanda Craig was speaking about her book The Lie Of The Land, which was one of the ARCs that have been waiting on my kindle for a while. So, of course, I knew I had to squeeze it into my schedule.
When I first read the blurb of this book it obviously sparked an attraction, then because it had sat on the shelf for some considerable time (oops!) when I came back to it I couldn’t quite remember what the story was supposed to be about. I re-read the blurb and wasn’t sure on second reading if it was a book I was really going to enjoy.
I’m glad to say that I was able to prove myself wrong.
This is a great book!
The characters were brilliant, each endearing and flawed with some leaning more one way than the other. Throughout the book we get to hear from Quentin, Lottie, Xan, and Sally, I enjoyed getting to see from all the characters perspectives. It gave the story a lot more depth as you were able to see how the demise of a relationship affects all the different characters but also how it appears from people on the outside.
At the heart of this story is relationships, how they are built and broken and how that is overcome. It takes a look at what really makes a marriage and how the choices you make don’t just impact you, especially when part of a family. This is most visible in the relationship between Quentin and his father, who finds himself following in his father’s footsteps even though he despises his father for his past behaviour. As Ms. Craig put it at the event – it’s not just your own life you’re trashing it passes down to the next generation.
There is also a lot about the differences between the city and the country and the prejudices that people have over each. It was really interesting to hear that this was inspired by the author’s own move to the country and how she was faced with people coming to her door asking for jobs because times were so hard. There were points that the divide was maybe made a little extreme for dramatic value but overall it provided a fascinating backdrop to the story.
There is an element of mystery throughout the book and I have to say I had it half figured out fairly early on, but I think because the plot wasn’t resting on this one part of the story I didn’t feel that sting of disappointment, that I would if it were a crime or thriller novel. Instead, I enjoyed getting to see how the reveal was going to be set up and then, of course, the motivations behind what happened.
This isn’t a fast paced book, instead, it draws you in and the deeper you get into the story the more it picks up or maybe it’s just that by that point you are so engrossed that that’s what it feels like.
The Lie Of The Land is a book that surprised me, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I went through a range of emotions reading this book, from getting a bit misty eyed, to laughing, to being on the edge of my seat. I will definitely be going back to check out some of Amanda Craig’s previous books and will look forward to what comes in the future.