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In The Place of Fallen Leaves
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In The Place of Fallen Leaves

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  179 ratings  ·  26 reviews
This overwhelmingly hot summer everything seems to be slowing down in the tiny Devon village where Alison lives, as if the sun is pouring hot glue over it. 'This idn't nothin', ' says Alison's grandmother, recalling a drought when the earth swallowed lambs, and the summer after the war when people got electric shocks off each other. But Alison knows her memory is lying: th...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published July 2005 by Bloomsbury (first published October 1st 1994)
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Community Reviews

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Jacqueline
I remember completing this and going “Wow”. This is not just a novel, but a mood piece that is almost surreal. There’s a certain magical quality surrounding this novel that remains unbroken right to its very last word.

Very atmospheric and downright beautiful. One of my favourite books of all time.
Juliebragger
I loved this book not challenging no intricate plot, just simplicity. A young girls take on the long hot summer when she left her childhood behind and began to embark on her journey into adulthood. It made me long for the days when we had communities, and nature drove life not money. A time when you were part of a family from birth to death, when the old were excepted, and all the challenges of elderly infirm relatives were part of the wonderful tapestry of life. When families were never termed...more
Jean Grant
This is a beautifully written book. I read and reread sentences for the sheer pleasure of seeing our language so evocatively and precisely used. It's rare to find sentences, paragraphs like that. The characterization is excellent. But I'm an impatient person, one who likes action, and the plot wasn't fast-moving enough for my taste. That said, the fight between the brothers toward the end of the novel was convincing, absolutely riveting. I wish there had been more of that potent conflict. I'll c...more
Scottie
I knew I would enjoy this book when I read the following on page 2:

"It had a small pond inhabited by goldfish, which used to jump out of the water whenever someone slammed the front door, but which when the pond dried up in July had disappeared off the face of the earth, leaving no trace except for a mysterious quiver in the whiskers of our cats."

I hated to finish this book. It was a joy to read.
Mrybrown
While this novel lacks a satisfying arc, I give it four stars for its beautiful, fresh language. You've got to love an author who comes up with a metaphor like this one describing men at a barn dance: "One by one the men were persuaded by other men's wives to join in, and they fell off the sides of the barn like currants into mother's cake mix."
Windy
Set in the long hot summer of 1984, in a village in Devon, mostly narrated by Alison, a teenager who is difficult to describe. She doesn't seem to have many friends and yet is so kind and thoughtful to her father who has some mental problems and to the lonely Rector and also to a boy who is also a bit of a loner.

The prolonged heat and drought combined with teachers' strikes postponing the return to school plays havoc on the village and Alison's family in particular.

The main story is a good one b...more
Sue
So beautifully written
Zoe
This novel caught my attention from it's beautiful composition of grammar and language. Every sentence was moving in a way that left me feeling as if I myself was experiencing the emotions of the novel's protagonist, Alison Freemantle. Through Alison's memories and the memories of those around her, a picture is painted of the small Devon community she lives in. I felt connected to the subject of this painting as if I knew the land,the atmosphere, and every character personally, from objects,plac...more
Fiona Glass
I had to give up on this one. It's beautifully, almost poetically, written, and I might even have coped with the anecdotal style. What really put me off, though, was the device of using a 12-year-old girl as the narrator, because so little of the narrative reads true for a 12-year-old in 1984. Not only that, but there are places even in the first few chapters where she's supposedly reporting on things that she couldn't possibly know (her grandparents' sleeping habits, what the rector got up to i...more
Prue Francis
I felt sad when I finished this book, not because I was disappointed with it, but because it was like parting with a friend I had come to know really well. It lacks a dramatic and 'hold your breath' plot but compensates with the skilful use of language, often poetical. It's ordinariness appealed to me and the way the author writes to make the most trivial and ordinary things seem important by his use of language. There may be some points of unreality, for example, the girl's relationship with th...more
Kirsty Darbyshire

'Atmospheric' is the best word I can think of to describe the world laid out in this book. That and 'fabulous'. It's one of those stories that seems to have no real plot to it but kind of meanders until you realise that you've gone somewhere without being quite aware of the journey. It's set in the hot late summer of 1984 in a Devon village with eleven year old Alison leading us around her family and friends. The story is coming-of-ageish I suppose, but it's delightful. Definitely an author to r

...more
Graham
Although lacking a plot this book recreates a rural world, the Teign valley in Devon, during a hot, dry summer of 1984. A series of vignettes of the village and a farming family, largely seen through the eyes of 13 year old Alison. Lots of good things in the book - the imagery and language, the characters, and the relationship between Alison and her confused father - very tenderly portrayed.
We will be discussing this book at my group holiday which this year is in Devon, near Tavistock, not many...more
Becky
If Thomas Hardy read up on magic realism, took antidepressants, and was interested in writing sympathetic, believable characters, he might write In the Place of Fallen Leaves. In other words, it's a Thomas Hardy novel for people who don't like Thomas Hardy novels (such as me.)

I especially enjoyed reading it because it's set a bit to the south-west of where I'm currently living in Devon, and was full of fascinating local color.

Beautifully and unusually written; I highly recommend it!
Sue
Told from the point of view of teenage Alison, this book is set in the end of the hot summer of 1984 (in the UK). I found the book unimpressive, despite realistic people and fairly well-flowing conversation. There were some odd changes of perspective which shouldn't be possible in a first-person novel, and flashbacks which didn't quite work, confusingly interspersed with the present. It was also quite hard to read at times with strongly accented Devonshire speech.
Kerry
A little slow. Might appeal to children of the 60's/70's.
Hayley
Sep 18, 2013 Hayley rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
I couldn't finish it. I ran out of time before needing to return it and it just was too difficult to dive into. The jumping from scene to scene with no direction at all was to difficult to keep my interest, and it was told in first person but then went into great detail on things that happened when she was not present - how would she know?
Alan
Dec 07, 2010 Alan added it
Shelves: novels
I can't really rate this book as I can't remember much about it. But I have read it. According to my 1995 notebook:
good but keep waiting for something to happen, it's anecdotal in style & I suppose it's layering a sense of place and community... later... have to admire it, some lovely passages in it, country sun-soaked stuff

Amy Huskisson
This book had all the elements of being special; beautiful writing and descriptions, however I was disappointed. There was no plot which I need to keep me going, to intrigue me. It let me down and in the end I had to skim read it as it bored me.
Claire Haeg
A novel set in 1980s Devon, written by an Englishman but with an unaccountable "magic realism" feel. The depths of human failings and goodness are explored through the eyes of a 13 year old girl. A beautiful novel.
Terasa
A charming story, which unfortunately lacks plot, as you are reading a summer snapshot of a 14 year old girls life. As it is a snapshot, you don't get a satisfying full reaching story which may leave some disappointed.
Cecily
Plausibly written as a teenage girl growing up in remote Cornish farm. Slowly unfolding tales of displacement/detachment/oddness and growing up etc.

Alasdair
evokes a landscape & locality i know well, having gone to school in newton abbot. the clastrophobia of rural village life.
David
Fantastic "coming-of-age" story set in rural Devon during a summer drought.
Ben
hot summer days of childhood in the mid seventies.
Andy
Really enjoyed this.
Got lost in a hot summer world.
Isaw
made me feel that i was there
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Tim Pears is an English novelist.
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