Amanda Craig

Seasonal Affairs

At Hawthorn Time


Bloomsbury 288pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Anyone anticipating bucolic bliss from Melissa Harrison’s second novel will be forewarned. Its prologue is narrated by the ghost of someone just killed in a road accident: ‘two cars, spent and ravished, violence gathered about them in the silent air. One wheel, upturned, still spins.’

How matters have come to this pass provides the trajectory of the plot, but the book’s deeper purpose is to explore the modern English countryside through the eyes of a handful of characters: the quarrelling middle-aged incomers Howard and Kitty, car-mad local boy Jamie, and Jack, a wandering labourer and poet who appears to be part John Clare and part Robert Macfarlane. Needless to say, the last is the most sympathetic and interesting character to follow as, trying to avoid the police, he moves back to the small village of Lodeshill. Living on and off the land and seeking low-paid work, such as asparagus-picking, Jack travels along old, forgotten paths and is ‘less like a modern man and more like the fugitive spirit of English rural rebellion’.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • sorry I can’t spell fluttering. I was agitated.,
    • Probably try and get an announcement out later, for all these male writers who think of fluttering inner muscle sheaths...,
    • He felt the muscles far inside her flutteriung around him,
    • Next week sees return, and we've got discounted tickets on offer, right here: ,
    • We're rarely topical - tricky as a monthly magazine - but we've an article this month all about Laurence Binyon, po… ,
    • "We will remember them" - who wrote those words, and why have them become our terms of memorial? ,
    • RT : Wow. We're over the moon with this stunning piece on My Cat Yugoslavia, 'a truly extraordinary novel.'… ,