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The Siege of Trencher's Farm

3.27 of 5 stars 3.27  ·  rating details  ·  219 ratings  ·  34 reviews
The original novel on which Sam Peckinpah's controversial movie Straw Dogs was based, and the inspiration behind a brand-new movie by Rod Lurie, starring Alexander Skarsgård and Kate Bosworth - due for release in September 2011.

American professor George Magruder, his wife Louise and their daughter rent an old, isolated house known as Trencher's Farm in Cornwall, so George...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published August 16th 2011 by Titan Books (first published 1969)
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This is a reissue of the long out of print novel that was the basis for the 1971 Sam Peckinpah film STRAW DOGS, which starred Dustin Hoffman and Susan George. The film was banned for 26 years in England for it's graphic violence(what else could you expect from a Peckinpah film) and treatment of women.

American professor George Magruder and his British wife, Louise, along with their daughter Karen, take a six month lease on an isolated home known locally as Trencher's Farm in order for him to fin...more
THE SIEGE OF TRENCHER’S FARM. (1969). Gordon Williams. ****.
Emblazoned across the front of this novel you read, “The Novel That Inspired ‘Straw Dogs’.” You also learn – this time from the back cover – that they have done a remake of “Straw Dogs,” directed by Rod Lurie and starring James Marsden, Kate Bosworth, and Alexander Skarsgard – whoever any of these people might be. What was wrong with the original version? Nothing! It was one of the most intense and well-directed movies I have ever seen...more
Stylo Fantome
Okay, so this book isn't for everyone. There is a lot of violence and cheating and aggression and uber-creepiness in it.

Now that THAT'S out of the way.

I. Love. This. Book.

Which is a surprise, because I absolutely HATED both movies. HATED, with a passion, like they had called my momma fat, hated. Even Alexander Skarsgard in all his glory could not save the modern remake. The only good thing in the entire movie was the siege at the end, and Mr. Marsden. Even then, I pretty much just wanted to vomi...more
EZRead eBookstore
From civility to brutality – that is the backwards evolution of this book. And, instead of giving a feeling of recession, this change in character is portrayed as a means of progression. Since when is a civil society looked upon as a bad thing? I’m not sure I agree with the whole outlook, but somehow, Williams makes this perspective on life work for the story.

George is an educated man who believes in being rational. Succumbing to brute force with people is animalistic in his eyes. Of course, whe...more
Russell Bittner
I've just finished reading this book and I have to say I have rather mixed feelings about it.

(For what it's worth, I decided to chase it down here at the Brooklyn Public Library after I'd seen both versions of "Straw Dogs." I was simply curious to know something about a story that had gotten so much directorial/cinematic attention.)

My overall reaction? I think that Sam Pekinpah's original version (with Dustin Hoffman and Susan George) was better than Rod Lurie's version (with Alexander Skarsgård...more
Rating: 4.5 stars
The movie Straw Dogs was based on this book - the original with Dustin Hoffman (1971), and the new remake with James Marsden, Kate Bosworth, and the hot guy from True Blood (2011). I haven't seen either movie yet, so I don't know how they compare to the novel.

Young married couple George and Louise Magruder are considered outsiders when they rent an old farmhouse in a small English town for the winter. Just like your typical rednecks in any small southern U.S. town, the locals d...more
Robert Beveridge
Gordon Williams, The Siege at Trencher's Farm (Dell, 1969)
[originally posted 17Sep2001]

Sam Peckinpah and Dustin Hoffman immortalized Williams' little morality tale in the early 70s with the film Straw Dogs. In true Peckinpah style, the source material was gutted, twisted, and ripped to shreds. The Siege at Trencher's Farm itself, while not exactly a model of stiff-upper-lip British reserve, is to Straw Dogs what Saving Private Ryan is to the sanitized war films of the fifties.

Williams gives us a...more
Paula Johns
I was engrossed in this book from beginning to end. A man is simply trying to finish a book, moves to England, his wife's home, and finds himself in the middle of a culture that is isolated with quirky folks, volitile twists, and a writer who finds himself and his family in a demanding situation!

Book is excellent, movie was a winner!
After watching the 2011 Straw Dogs, I knew I had to read this book. In all honesty, it was a little disappointing. I knew it wouldn't be too much like the film, but I was expecting something I couldn't put down.

The main thing that REALLY irritated me was the British author's depiction of Americans. It was offensive or anything, it just wasn't realistic in the slightest. Don't get me wrong, I love British books - Georgia Nicholson is one of my favorite characters (albeit that is YA writing and th...more
Samantha Leighanne
For more reviews, visit my blog at

American professor George Macgruder has traveled to England with his British wife and daughter in hopes of finding a quiet place to finish his book. They rent an old house known as Trencher's Farm in a small village. It's the holiday season and in the middle of a snow storm on their way home, they accidentally hit a child killer who's escaped from a mental institution. Being the nice people that they are, they bring the man home...more
Axel Howerton
The book is filled with easy commentaries and obvious comparisons between English and American cultures, between bull-headed traditions and modernity (1960’s modern, but still…), men and women, children and adults, etc. I found it added a layer of thoughtfulness to what, otherwise, would have been another bleak and violent thriller. By the end, I was surprised at the lasting effect the story had and the more philosophical questions of social mores it raised. On reflection, it also struck me how...more
Robert Beveridge
Gordon Williams, The Siege at Trencher's Farm (Dell, 1969)

Sam Peckinpah and Dustin Hoffman immortalized Williams' little morality tale in the early 70s with the film Straw Dogs. In true Peckinpah style, the source material was gutted, twisted, and ripped to shreds. The Siege at Trencher's Farm itself, while not exactly a model of stiff-upper-lip British reserve, is to Straw Dogs what Saving Private Ryan is to the sanitized war films of the fifties.

Williams gives us a bookish professor who's take...more
Jonathan Sturak
George Magruder is a civilized man, a man who doesn’t believe in violence or guns. He believes in the advancement of mankind, using debate and discussion to address problems. George is an American. He married a Brit named Louise and together they have a young impressionable daughter. The Magruder family has been living in Louise's country for several months as George works on a research paper. They have bypassed the civilized city, renting a sprawling home called “Trencher’s Farm” inside a myste...more
I read this book because I saw the film and was left thinking there had to be more. As I watched the movie I had a really hard time liking any of the characters or feeling any really sympathy for what they were going through. Usually you can read the book and get to know the characters and at least feel something for them. Not the case with this one. It just seemed a little weak to me. The whole main character becoming a more of a man through violence and the wife gaining respect for him because...more
This story was incredibly violent. Like the title of the book states, it is a story about a house comes under attack. Specifically, how George comes under attack by locals and has to fight them to a gory death. The details of the fights and how it is really described as an all out fight to the death, of scraping nails, bloody sockets, and numb limbs, it was disturbing. The story also deals into the sinister lives of small town people and the anxiety that comes with it or because of it. George is...more
Peter Way
Interesting to read the original story from which the film was (considerably) adapted. Tense and atmospheric but the siege was too long drawn out and to some extent rather unbelievable. Interesting too to see how the film took the key elements of the book and wove them into a piece of tense drama. Not entirely sure about the rendition of the local dialogue which seemed to detract from rather than add to the story, but to be fair it was written in 1969.
Rayna Silveus
Very good book i had to read it after watching the disaster of a movie called straw dogs and recommend just reading the book and say screw the movie because they have butchered everything about it.
I have mixed feelings about this book. I found the basic story quite good and Williams is an able story teller; however, I couldn't get past the macho message of the book - violence and aggression make one a real man.
I couldn't wait to be done with this book. The first half of the book was too slow and boring. The second half of the book was fast past, and somewhat enjoyable. But the wife, Louise, is an idiot. I don't care to read any book where violence against women is encouraged and accepted. She wanted to get smacked in the face by her husband, and was relieved when he smacked her in the face. That is disgusting. Luckily I got this with kindle special offers and it was only a dollar.
This has always been one of my favorite underdog stories. Not only have I read the book but have seen both of the films based on it. You really don't like the main character to begin with but George will steal your heart as he defends his family with vigor. I always loved how he went from so very conversational to the point of irritation with his logic and then to see him spiral into a man who can and will protect his family from anything is a peice of literary brilliance!
Chris Meigh
The Siege of Trenchers Farm, a very good book that inspired a great film. Though half the book was about two or three hours on Christmas in the village of Dando, Gordon Williams manages to make it exciting and extremely tense. The book is clearly written and I particularly liked the way the "locals" spoke in their own dialect. The only criticism I have is that i found the end a little anti-climatic, but having said that I enjoyed reading the journey.
Since when is a civil society looked upon as a bad thing? I’m not sure I agree with the whole outlook, but somehow, Williams makes this perspective on life work for the story.

Intriguing concepts of civility kept the wheel in my head turning like a hamster in a cage. In contrast, the explicit aggression and hunger for violence that the townspeople have is jaw-dropping and eye-popping. In short, this is anything but a dull read.
The language was a little different, more of an English countryside vernacular that had a lot of incorrect wasn't hard to follow, but some sentences took a few minutes to figure out the "you'um" and "us's" and "her is ready now" (meaning a fire??) All in all the book was okay; now I want to see the movie to see how different it is.
There aren't any likeable characters found in The Siege of Trencher's Farm, but the fantastic writing makes up for it.

You can read my full review at
Thrillingly violent and engrossing story of class conflict and the cultural clash between middle class intelligentsia and salt of the earth West country rural folk. Ably adapted into the sizzling film by Peckinpah.
Sep 19, 2011 Cheese marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Straw Dogs was just so beyond fucked up I have to give the actual book a shot. Since books are almost always better than movies, I can only imagine what the book will bring.
Dean Moberly
This is tailor-made for couples on the verge of splitting over irreconcilable differences. Violence rarely comes accross as so reasonable.
Jerry Peace
Disturbing in about a million ways but would have made a better screenplay than Peckinpah's or Peckinpah lite.
Thom Dunn
Copyright 1969, original title, "The Siege of Trencher's Farm".....In front, floorplans of the farmhouse.

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Aka P.B. Yuill, joint pseudonym with Terry Venables.

Gordon Maclean Williams is a Scottish author. Born in Paisley, he moved to London to work as a journalist. He has written for television and is the author of over twenty novels including From Scenes Like These (1969), shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1969, Walk Don't Walk (1972) and Big Morning Blues (1974). Other novels include The Camp (1966...more
More about Gordon M. Williams...
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