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3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  303 ratings  ·  48 reviews

John Turner was a packman. With his train of horses he carried salt and silk across distances incomprehensible to his ancient and static community. He brings ideas as well as gifts that have come, by many shor...more
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published October 23rd 2003 by Harvill Press (first published October 2nd 2003)
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Dec 30, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who want to reconnect with the land
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
I was very unsure about this book when I first started reading it - this can partly be blamed on the fact that I am a lazy monkey who bothered to read neither the blurb on the back of the book or the note in the 1001 books to read before you die list which explains why it is on said list in the first place. Initially the unexpected batting back and forward time echoes narrative was difficult to get my eyes around however, once I'd reconciled myself to the two very different styles of narrative I...more
Jim Coughenour
This is a strange difficult book. The language reminds me of the poetry of Geoffrey Hill – archaic, massively learned, taut with power – but sometimes it's like chewing stones. The story is even harder, set in the "sentient landscape" of an actual, desolate valley in the north of England. Garner's prose is haunted and disturbed. Two times and tales interweave with uncanny effect: the story of a 18th century jagger, a peddler who perishes on a snowy night in the first few pages – and a querulous...more
Kevan Manwaring
Alan Garner's new novel has been a long time coming, but like the slow processes of geology, folk memory and love, it has produced something distinctive and enduring. Thursbitch is based on a true place and a true tale of discovery: once, when fell-running as a younger man, Garner stumbled upon a stone in a Pennine track in Cheshire with this curious inscription:

Hmmm. Alan Garner was a major author of my late childhood. His wonderful and utterly terrifying mythologising of the Peak District in the UK led to some thrilling trips to Errwood Reservoir and Macclesfield as a kid, where goblins lurked behind boulders and secret passageways to the Underworld were secreted in caves. In Thursbitch, Garner returns to the same region as an adult, in part ghost story, part history of the area. The landscape unites four very different people, who find themselves by...more
Kristen McDermott
A winter gem from the greatest living master of the mythopoeic. Time, place, stone, sense, and language are set into a spiral dance that transports the reader utterly. All of Garner's novels are rooted in the urge to know a place so deeply that every fragment of it evokes a dream, every object becomes multiplied and reflected through time and space. No one else takes the connection between land, lore, and language further and deeper. Every aspiring (or working) writer should read Garner to see h...more
Simon Sylvester
I'm relatively new to Garner, off the back of his wonderful collection of British Fairy Tales and his short novel Strandloper, though I probably read The Owl Service when I was a kid. I'm still digesting Thursbitch. It's profound and important, but it isn't much fun. Garner creates worlds real enough to touch. His prose is so sparse, his stories so lean, that it often feels like there's nothing there at all - as though his work is invisible, and his books are slices in time, windows into centuri...more
Justin Howe
A somewhat stunning read that makes me wonder if a book can be simultaneously lean and dense? The themes are reminiscent of Algernon Blackwood being not quite horror so much as awe and wonder at the world, but the prose is utterly stripped down and sparse. To be honest I had to stop a third of the way into the book and restart it in order to catch hold of what was going on. Definitely recommended.
Ari Berk
Mythic and extraordinary in every way. This is a book for those who love language and who are looking to better understand the ways in which events inhere within landscape. A fascinating and gripping tale as well showing how time becomes something far more flexible than we ever imagined. Some actions, once lived, live on forever.
Impressive, quite impressive, but it's the kind of book I need to read twice to comment on, so I'll refrain for now. On the second reading, I'll have a map to hand, dialect dictionary, author's lectures, notes on symbolism, whatever necessary. I feel like this book would reward digging into it.
Althea Ann
When I was young, Alan Garner was one of my favorite authors. His books for children capture, possibly more than any others, the beauty and magic of British folklore. Naturally, I was excited when I found out, just recently, that he's also written some material for adults (and, received an OBE for his contributions to English literature - a well-deserved honor.)

'Thursbitch' is the first 'adult' work by Garner that I was able to acquire (thanks to ILL!)

More of a study than a novel, 'Thursbitch' e...more
"c2003. This was a recommendation from a book blogging site. I did not like this book at all - not the plot - not the style of writing. I am glad it was a not a lengthy book at all else I would probably have failed at finishing. The blurb and premise sounded good ""Enigmatic memorial stone, high on the bank of a prehistoric Pennine track in Cheshire....It is a mystery that lives on in the hill farms today."" Well - the only mystery to me is how so many other people seemed to have liked it and I...more
This whole novel is poetic. The pagan sections are full of song and dance and ritualistic incantation, with sentences long and winding or short and repetitive, like cycles of the seasons or gusts of swirling wind; the passages exude the rhythm of the earth, the poetry of faith and the solemnity of heavy stones. But Ian and Sal’s modern exchanges display poetry too as the debate between religion and science takes over; rocks are discussed as “Namurian. Chatworth Grit” with “recessed eroded scarp...more
I have to admit I found the Jack portions of the book (especially at first) very difficult to follow--so many strange idioms and spellings that I found myself rereading a lot (maybe if I were English it would have been easier). I was a bit disappointed, overall with the book. I picked it up after reading an interview with Susanna Clarke where she recommended it, and I was expecting a lot (maybe too much from such a short book). I feel like I should reread it now that I'm used to the language and...more
I must admit that this book needed a fair bit of attention to get through with its flipping through past and present and the language used, which required a bit of thinking to understand. I think however, that all of that contributed to the general feel of the book, where you had to look deeply to understand all the characters and how they connected to each other and the landscape.
Complex. Needs more patience than I have currently. Beautiful even if I didn't really dig down into the layers.
I have been meaning to read Thursbitch for quite some time, but as I had read somewhere that it was difficult to read it made its way to the back of my list. When I finally got it from the library I was astonished to see that it was only 158 pages long.

I will ignore references to ‘difficult reads’ in future as I may never have bothered with this fantastic little novella. It was wonderful, I couldn't put it down, and I wished so much that I was there in the valley of Thursbitch, which was brought...more
I have been reading Alan Garner since the early 1960s when I encountered The Weirdstone of Brisingamen as a child. It is still one of my favourite books and the one I credit with my love of reading. Over the years I have read many of Garner’s novels but I have to say that as time went on and his style changed, his books became stranger and harder to follow. This is certainly true of Thursbitch.

Thursbitch is a short book that could possibly be classed as a novella. It consists of two intertwined...more
Mike Niewodowski

“Early Monday morning, late on Saturday night, I saw ten thousand mile away a house just out of sight!

The floor was on the ceiling, the front was at the back; It stood alone between two more, And the walls were whitewashed black!”

-From Thursbitch

To be honest, I was completely lost while reading Thursbitch. The novel is an enigmatic riddle, and the language is intentionally dense and confusing. The valley of Thursbitch in Northern England seems to be a mys...more
Hic, hoc, the carrion crow,
The carrion crow I see.
As I walk by mysen
And I talk to mysen,
Mysen says unto me:
Look to thysen,
Take care of thysen,
For nobody cares for thee.

Hic, hoc, the carrion crow,
The carrion crow I see.
I talk to mysen
And I say to mysen,
In the self-same nominy:
Look to thysen,
Or not to thysen,
The sen-same thing shall be.
Hic, hoc, the carrion crow,
The carrion crow's for me.

Thursbitch is a valley on the Cheshire side of the Pennines. In the mid-18th century, a local man Jack Turner,...more
Ian Mapp
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Rating may be adjusted.
The point where I stopped reading was when the farmers performed a pagan ceremony that reminded me of Bacchic ritual (in Cheshire?) and also of Wicker Man style rustics winking at each other, saying "oo, aar" and hiding a terrible secret from oblivious city bred outsiders. But it's Alan Garner, and he's the greatest! So after a few days I took it up again as I knew I would. This book is reminiscent of The Stone Book and takes up the theme of holy places and events existing...more
Does Alan Garner have a facility with language? Yes, he does. In his Thursbitch, he evokes an eighteenth century dialect of Cheshire that not only sounds melodious but also rum to my ears. His protagonist, Jack Turner, is a wandering packman who travels far out of his village to trade salt and returns bearing gifts from towns his village-folk have scarcely heard of. And they are a curious folk, ignorant of life outside their own locality and beholden to pagan gods.

In the present day, meanwhile,...more
I read the first page of this book - my latest book club read - sighed with dread and promptly put it down. I think that it was the way that it was written in a local dialect which put me off.
Anyhoo, I tried again last night, and despite nearly giving up after 2 chapters I pushed on, and ended up reading the whole book in one sitting. I'm glad I did. I enjoyed it & I feel proud that I've read something I wouldn't usually have looked twice at.
The chapters alternated between the valley of Thur...more
Rachel (Sfogs)
A magic book, two live's mirroring each others in different ways. And a pagan Bull god watching all.
A very sad ending
This is a truly remarkable book, unlike anything else and I include Garner's earlier Red Shift and Strandloper. The book isn't easy and bears rereading, this has been my second time, it won't be the last. The text offers no explanations of what is happening and much is in a difficult but not impenetrable 18th century Cheshire dialect. The story is heartbreaking but affirming. The locations and places in the book are utterly real but the story is told with no descriptions. A book of many layers o...more
N.J. Ramsden
Compact, dense, and thick with the poetry of place, Thursbitch is bound to its titular site by the rock and sod of Garner's words. To read Thursbitch is not to graze a story about people doing things, it is to melt into a word-space that evolves along parallel channels like a slow stream cutting bedrock. A wonderful, strange, ambiguous book that will stay with you.
Peter Dunn
A very, very odd book. Incredibly short with sparingly (and cleverly) revealed characterisation but packs a lot of plot, and most importantly imagery into its 154 pages. Stones, bees, bulls, literal bullshit. You really come away after reading it feeling as if you know Thursbitch and would know it if instantly transported to it more worryingly you feel it might also just be possible that that landscape could also be aware of you.
Nov 24, 2011 Wolf added it
I've really liked Alan Garner in the past. I grew up reading his children's books and, more recently, I found 'The Stone Book Quartet' and 'Strandlper' excellent - well told and intriguing.

Sadly, I could not get into this book at all. I found the dialogue and the language either often impenetrable (when in dialect) or, worse by far, thoroughly unconvicing when in the mouths of modern fell walkers.

A disappoinment.
I'd give it six if I could - it's a really, really wonderful book, dense and rich and passionate and important. I live within a mile or two of Thursbitch and Salterton and Jenkin's Chapel, and the other main places named here and have walked the hills extensively, but I feel I know them in a new way now, and love them more. Goosebumpy.
Steve Morris
Local to where I was born, Elidor and Alan Garner's other youthful works of imagination were a part of my younger formative years.

Good atmosphere and imagery weren't enough this time for me and Thursbitch didn't live up to Garner's previous heights, even after my second reading.
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*~Can't Stop Read...: Thursbitch 7 17 Aug 16, 2013 03:15AM  
  • Dining on Stones
  • Adjunct: An Undigest
  • Islands
  • The Lambs of London
  • In the Forest
  • The Light of Day
  • Vanishing Point
  • Schooling
  • Small Remedies
  • That They May Face The Rising Sun
  • Shroud
  • An Obedient Father
  • Gabriel's Gift
  • Spring Flowers, Spring Frost
  • The Colour
  • Celestial Harmonies
  • The Red Queen
  • Nowhere Man
Alan Garner OBE (born 17 October 1934) is an English novelist who is best known for his children's fantasy novels and his retellings of traditional British folk tales. His work is firmly rooted in the landscape, history and folklore of his native county of Cheshire, North West England, being set in the region and making use of the native Cheshire dialect.

Born into a working-class family in Conglet...more
More about Alan Garner...
The Weirdstone of Brisingamen (Tales of Alderley, #1) The Owl Service Elidor The Moon of Gomrath (Tales of Alderley, #2) Red Shift

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