Book review: The Lie of the Land

Amanda Craig A simple yet deceptively nuanced story of modern times, The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig is full of the contrasts and comparisons thrown up by ordinary life. The Bredins, Quentin and Lottie, have agreed to divorce after his infidelity but cannot afford to. Unable to sell their London house, they rent it out instead and move to Devon to a dank dark creepy farmhouse where they must manage to live together. What happens over the next year is unexpected and changes all their lives forever. This is a funny, mysterious and sometimes sad story of a city family in the country where, instead of leaving their problems behind, they find they are magnified. There is truth in the old adage, you cannot run from your problems.
What happened to the previous tenant of Home Farm? Who is the mysterious tramp in the local pub? And is Lottie really having an affair with a local architect. Meanwhile, Quentin’s father is dying and his mother is stoically coping. Lottie’s son Xan works in the nearby pie factory where, as well as finding himself a Polish girlfriend, he makes friends with Dawn, the daughter of the Bredin’s cleaner. Dawn, who seems downtrodden, obese and introverted, can play the piano like an angel. Craig has written a character-driven novel with a community of characters to make Devon feel at once cozy and familiar while being secretive and insulated. Where contrasts are expected between urban and rural life, there are often likenesses. There are several sub-plots cleverly woven into the main family narrative, of caring for elderly parents, bullying, childlessness, rural phone and broadband reception, Polish workers and urban snobbishness about country life.
I particularly liked sheep farmer’s wife Sally Verity, whose job as a social worker sees her move around the countryside, cleverly knitting together people and stories. Lottie’s mother Marta, though she stays in London, is another link between generations, locations and storylines. Only when I had finished the book did I learn that some of the characters appear in other novels by Craig, something which did not affect my understanding or enjoyment of the book. Read more about Amanda Craig’s books at her website.
If you like this, try:-
‘Himself’ by Jess Kidd
‘My Husband the Stranger’ by Rebecca Done
‘Ghost Moth’ by Michèle Forbes
‘The Lie of the Land’ by Amanda Craig [UK: Little Brown] Buy now
And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE LIE OF THE LAND by @AmandaPCraig #books via @SandraDanby

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