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Harvest

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  4,108 ratings  ·  691 reviews
SHORT-LISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE

On the morning after harvest, the inhabitants of a remote English villageawaken looking forward toa hard-earned day of rest and feasting at their landowner's table. But the sky is marred by twoconspicuous columns of smoke, replacing pleasurable anticipation with alarm and suspicion.

One smoke column is the result of an overnight fire tha
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Hardcover, 208 pages
Published February 12th 2013 by Nan A. Talese (first published January 1st 2013)
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A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth OzekiThe Lowland by Jhumpa LahiriThe Luminaries by Eleanor CattonTransAtlantic by Colum McCannThe Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín
2013 Man Booker Prize Longlist
8th out of 13 books — 231 voters
Life After Life by Kate AtkinsonThe Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil GaimanThe Rosie Project by Graeme SimsionThe Cuckoo's Calling by Robert GalbraithTransAtlantic by Colum McCann
Man Booker Prize Eligible 2013
11th out of 176 books — 284 voters


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Community Reviews

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Clare
Perhaps the most evocative and realistic depiction of the Enclosure Act and it's effect on the labouring country classes that you will ever read. The narrator, an outsider in the village in which he lives, reports the terrifying ordeal of the villagers as their common land is parceled up and they are driven from the hamlet. Add a dash of Witchfinder General, a soupcon of moral guilt (although this novel seemed preoccupied with sins of ommission rather than the more obvious sins of commission) an ...more
Wolf
This book seemed right up my street. I enjoy historical fiction and here the story of a village facing sudden new threats - enclosure of the land, which threatens their whole way of life, the arrival of strangers, both poor and powerless and wealthy and powerful, and the whisper of witchery - sounds extremely promising. The writing is, at its best, plain, poetic and beautiful. It should have been great.

It actually starts very well - the writing is at its best here. It is easy to read. The histor
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·Karen·

Brilliant

A tale with the cold horrific inevitability of a tsunami bearing down on tiny human figures whose ineffectual scrabblings move at the slow pace of nightmare.

Timeless, mythical drama. An Olympian god, in a mood of resentful restlessness, drops havoc down into an English village in the form of three strangers. What ensues is the collapse of everything that held that village together, a dissolving of morals, customs, homes and families on a monumental scale. Breathtaking.
Jill
Jim Crace’s HARVEST reads like a simple moral fable of a tiny and remote medieval English village, destroyed externally and internally by the conversion of farms into sheep pastures, but wait! There is far more to it than meets the eye.

Mr. Crace is particularly interested in pairings: everything comes in twos, right from the opening pages.. Two signals of smoke rise up: one signaling the arrival of new neighbors who are announcing their right to stay…the second, a blaze that indicates the master
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Cheryl
Halfway through this novel it dawned on me that this could be interpreted as a deeply allegorical story (I'm slow on the uptake). Despite being set in olde England, when witchery and pillorys were believed in (when convenient), it could be a story of politics and class in America today. Behaviours don't change over the centuries - every generation starts afresh and tries to figure it out on their own. The one thing we are remarkably adept at is rationalising away our moral shortcomings--a skill ...more
Jakey Gee
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kinga
“What starts with fire will end with fire, I’ve heard it said.”
And so starts and ends ‘Harvest’, Jim Crace’s latest novel (and supposedly his last, as he will be retiring from writing). The fire in ‘Harvest’ is not the kind that has sky reaching blazing flames. It reminded me more of dying embers, gently fizzling out.

During our book club discussion it became apparent that the book touches on a multitude of themes and subjects but it all seemed rather understated. It was as if Crace took on to pa
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Elaine
What I loved about this book was the atmosphere, the overwhelming sense of foreboding and isolation, of being surrounded by slightly menacing nature (flesh eating pigs, downpours) and a sense of primordial earthy power. And being utterly alone, at the mercy of whatever happens there. I read the last sections breathless, page turning and heart pounding - sadly, the plot did not fulfill the rich sense of wrongness and dread built up by the atmosphere.

I also liked the fable-like timelessness. At on
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Teresa
Jan 20, 2014 Teresa rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Teresa by: ·Karen·
In much the same way The Crucible is an allegory of McCarthyism, this novel is also a political allegory: firstly, of isolationism and the effects of panic due to a perceived threat.

The blurb on the inner flap of the book posits that this idyll is unraveling due to economic progress, and, yes, there is that, but it is the confrontation of the 'immigrants' by the community that comes first and shows the easy moral collapse after a rush to judgment so as 'their own' will not get in trouble.

It is t
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Katie
This is an easy book to appreciate and a difficult book to love.

It is really excellent in terms of setting a scene and creating a sense of atmosphere. Broadly, it's a story about a small English village - date unprovided, though it seems likely sometime in the 17th century - that's teetering on the verge of being thrust into modernity, as the arrival of a new landowner and the English enclosure acts mean that their land, which grew wheat and barley for countless generations, is about to be raze
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Lou
A story set in bygone days of a English village, the characters in this story go through hard times some involving that of arson and death.
The story is told with some great prose with metaphors and careful sentencing. I felt a great sense of place and time in this story which is slow paced and successfully kept me reading on . A memorable story to be consumed in a few readings.


"As I've said, we are not a hurtful people. We are, though, fearful, proud and dutiful. We do what must be done."

"But,
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Antonomasia
[4.5] Full of gorgeous writing about the landscape and a semi-mythical past. The entire book takes place in one week at harvest-time, so this and the next month or so is the perfect season to read it. (Rather a lot of Booker books, from this and earlier years, are set in the summer, I've noticed.)

What sky is blue is more thinly so this afternoon. The woodland canopies, viewed from this sloping field, are sere or just a little pinched with rust, the first signs of the approaching slumber of the t
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Shelley Fearn
I don't know what I expected when I checked out this book. I had read one of his previous novels The Pesthouse which was dystopian fiction. I guess that I thought this would go along those lines. Then I started reading and at first didn't really understand what was going on with the story. Crace never comes out and tells the reader you are here and this is when the story is happening. He simply tells the story.

I quickly became engrossed in the novel. It's about a small village some time before t
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Michael
A group of strangers arrive in the woodland borders and put up a make-shift camp. That same night a manor house is set on fire. Following that the harvest is blackened by smoke, the strangers are cruelly punished and there is suspicion of witchcraft afoot. Harvest tells the story of the economic progress following the Enclosure Acts that disrupted the pastoral paradise of a small remote English village.

Jim Crave uses the tragedies, pillaging and other disruptions in an effort to evoke the effect
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Diane S.
Had a very hard time rating this book. The writing is outstanding, time and place one can imagine what living here is like. and an unreliable narrator. The tone is foreboding, a little like children of the corn, but much better prose. My problem is partly the pacing, which moves so slowly, also one can only read so much about grain harvest, chaff and pigs also I am not sure I liked the ending. Anyway very atmospheric, story is good once it gets going and I loved the prose.
David Kenvyn
Jim Crace has made me understand, at a personal level, what it must have been like for the villagers facing enclosures, being driven out of their homes to make way for much more profitable sheep. This is the astonishing story of the last harvest of a group of villagers, who do not even know that they are facing impending disaster, until it is too late. It is also the tale of how a random act of idiocy has far-reaching and unintended consequences. It is a parable for our times.
Martin Zook
As is the case with many of Crace's story lines, it's a relatively simple one: The placid order of a remote, pre-industrial English village and the estate upon which it depends, is disrupted by a number of events that include three mysterious squatters who come into conflict with both the 60 people who call the village home, and the ruling authorities of the estate.

The estate's precarious equilibrium is also threatened by a new "order" imposed by a new owner, whose entrance is seemingly a resul
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Dillwynia Peter
Only a writer with a poetic frame of mind could pull off such a book as this. One comes away from this story with such an ethereal feeling; I'm reminded of Malouf's An Imaginary Life which also lacks that feeling of permanence or substance. Instead one feels one has encountered smoke - something that looks like a substantial object, but over time fades into nothing.

Having written this, the plot and the horror and destruction of a community is anything but ethereal! Set around the time of the Inc
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Helen
I often find myself beginning a review by stating where and when the novel is set. With Harvest I can't do that, because we aren't told. All we know is that it's a small rural community where for generations the people who live there have worked on the land, ploughing, planting and harvesting. This is the way of life they have always known and this is how they have always supported themselves and their families.

Things begin to change when a 'chart-maker' whom the villagers refer to as Mr Quill a
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Stephen
Jim Crace has announced that "Harvest" is his final novel. While it is sad to lose a novelist of such skill, that this particular work should end his career is fitting: "Harvest" is a novel of farewell, of change. One way of life passes away and another is born, with the central character, Walter Thirsk, caught between these changes. The story is set in an unknown time, certainly several centuries ago, and in an unknown place, simply called "the village." A vague threat to the village's simple a ...more
David
Beautifully written, rich in insight and allegory, and still having a story. This is what serious literature was like before it disappeared up the Turner Prize cul-de-sac of anarchic pretentiousness and shocking for the sake of shocking. Which is not to say it is completely shock free. There is violence here, but it is integral to the plot, disturbing in its detail but not excessive in quantity.

The unnamed village in which the story unfolds is evidently England in the age of enclosure, when comm
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Antenna
In a remote unnamed English hamlet at an unspecified location and time, somewhere around the 1600s, perhaps, the "accidental" burning of the master's dovecotes is blamed on a family of squatters. The ensuing chain of disastrous events plays out against the long-term tragedy of the inexorable forces of change, by which common land, felled woodland and cornfields are to be enclosed for sheep-farming, destroying in the process a stable community in which everyone has a place.

The sustained sense of
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Adrian White
If I told you that Harvest reminded me of the first Rambo movie, First Blood, and that this was a good thing - would you know what I mean? Or Tess of the d'Urberville's? Or Ronan Bennett's Havoc in its Third Year? Each of these references stand up and Jim Crace's Harvest bears comparison with these three fine pieces of work.
I've heard the author say that he read Hilary Mantel's guidelines on writing historical fiction, noted and admired them, and then promptly broke each rule. He wrote this book
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Carolyn Mck
This is a powerful novel about the change from subsistence farming to sheep grazing, through the process of enclosing common fields – a process that began in England in the 16th century.

A once tranquil, secluded village is disturbed firstly by the drunken antics of some youths, the arrival of outsiders (who become scapegoats) and most deeply by the imminent change to the ownership of the manor and the proposal to introduce sheep farming.

Harvest creates currents of unease, showing how suspicion
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Karen
Harvest by Jim Crace is not a particularly compelling novel. There is plenty of action in the story, including some mischief and a few suspicious deaths, but there is little drama associated with the actions because everything seems to follow a natural progression for the nebulous time period of change within English village life when the story takes place. It is also very difficult to get attached to any of the characters because the story is narrated in the first person perspective of Walter, ...more
Kiki
I saw Harvest on the new book shelf at my library and grabbed it, having read ad enjoyed his book Pesthouse. A few days later, I saw that Harvest was a longlist nominee for the Man Booker prize. So I was excited to be reading it.

Crace has a clean writing style that appeals to me. He also chooses topics that intrigue me. Pesthouse had a dystopian feel (a post-viral world), and even though this novel has a very different setting, 18th century rural England, it also has a dystopian feel to it. Wal
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Annet
I read one book of Jim Crace, the Pesthouse, a gloomy but intriguing book. This one, Harvest, I had on my wishlist when I read the outline of the story. Decided to buy the hardcover even, after waiting for some time for the paperback in Europe.
A weird, absurdistic story, there are similarities to the Pesthouse. Yes, you can read it as an allegory or fable and make a comparison to current society and how people can turn into their worst behaviour.... you can also read it as just the story of a v
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Marion Husband
This is a very beautifully written novel but a very disturbing, miserable read - such a lot of cruelty and despair that I just wanted it to end so I could stop worrying about the characters. Sometimes I feel that there are quite enough god-awful scenes of torture and misery in my head without adding more, but I suppose that's the danger of reading good, true fiction about difficult subjects. But reading this at the same time as Sugar in the Blood, which is about the horror of slavery, was someth ...more
Merilee
I absolutely love Jim Crace's writing, and plan to read many of his other books (have already read Quarantine).
Not a huge amount seems to happen in the two books I've read so far, but the language is exquisite. I would love to hear it read aloud by a good reader.
Eric Anderson
Have you ever finished a book and you know it’s affected you on some deep subliminal level because you have very vivid dreams that evening? This has happened to me before when I read the fantastic nightmarish graphic novel Lost Girls by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie. I think with that book the dreams were instigated by Gebbie’s powerful drawings. It’s happened again with Harvest and in this case I think it’s because of Crace’s masterful use of language and his subject matter.

Read my full review
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James "Jim" Crace is an award-winning English writer. His novel Quarantine, won the Whitbread Novel award and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Harvest won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Crace grew up in Forty Hill, an area at the far northern point of Greater London, close to Enfield where Crace attended Enfield Grammar School. He stu
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More about Jim Crace...
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