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3.55  ·  Rating Details  ·  451 Ratings  ·  63 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
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published October 23rd 2003 by Harvill Press (first published October 2nd 2003)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,438)
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Dec 30, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it it was amazing
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
Kevan Manwaring
Jun 25, 2012 Kevan Manwaring rated it really liked it
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:

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
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
Nov 30, 2012 Becky rated it liked it
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
Simon Sylvester
Jul 27, 2014 Simon Sylvester rated it really liked it
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
Dec 08, 2013 Justin Howe rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 24, 2012 Ari Berk rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 01, 2013 Althea Ann rated it liked it
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
Jul 23, 2011 Ruth rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
"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
Jul 13, 2014 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, england
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
Jul 29, 2009 Peter rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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
Saoirse Sterling
Apr 08, 2015 Saoirse Sterling rated it did not like it
Shelves: bloody-cack, 2015
Despite being a member of the English People who actually say "nowt" and "owt" a thousand times a day, this was extremely jarring and often unnecessary. It was confusing and, from the blurb and other reviews, seems to only get more confusing, but there is still a part of me that wants to read the rest. I may return, if only because it is a short story and won't take up too much of my time. The name is very misleading as it sounds more like a fantasy than the historical-contemporary mix it actual ...more
Oct 07, 2014 Kate rated it really liked it
"В каждом абзаце текста Гарнера больше смысла, чем в иных современных книжонках". " Проза Гарнера слоиста, нельзя просто взять и понять всё с ходу - она раскрывается как луковка". (Вольный перевод отзывов профессиональных критиков, особенно про луковку.) Всё это значит: я ничего не понял в этой книге, но явно тут что-то зарыто.
Я тоже ничего не поняла в этой книге. Половина действия разворачивается в 1755 году или близко к тому. Для человека, которому английский не то что не родной, а так - едва
Peter Dunn
Jan 03, 2011 Peter Dunn rated it really liked it
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.



Jack 'Jagger' Turner, roving trader trying to hold to the old ways in 18th-century; Sal, dying of some degenerative disease (MS? MND?), & Ian, Jesuit, both fascinated by the geology of the Pennines. The landscape plays the most powerful role in this story where the past meets present
Jul 05, 2009 Lindsay rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, 1001, z2009, uk
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.
Dec 28, 2014 Claire rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"Here John Turner was cast away in a heavy snow storm in the night in or about the year 1755.
The print of a woman's shoe was found by his side in the snow where he lay dead."

I don't remember reading this in the actual book. As far as I can tell one part is set in 1730's and one part is contemporary. No one dies in a snow drift.

Apart from that the language in parts was challenging as its dialect. The contemporary part was only partly "filled in" so I didn't actually care who the couple were or wh
Anna Grady
Feb 15, 2015 Anna Grady rated it liked it
I had mixed feelings about this book. For me it didn't quite live up to the hype on the cover. I found the descriptions of the landscape really difficult to follow (because of the use of all the different names) and I found the dialogue between Sal and Ian quite frustrating at times - I often couldn't work out which one was speaking and found some of the conversations unbelievable. And yet it is a book that I think will stay with me. The role of the jagger in bringing word of what's happening in ...more
Gav Thorpe
May 09, 2016 Gav Thorpe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A remarkable book. A use of language (both narrative and dialogue) that sweeps along and yet utterly grounded in a sense of place and character. Compelling writing.
Mar 31, 2011 Voracious rated it liked it
Complex. Needs more patience than I have currently. Beautiful even if I didn't really dig down into the layers.
Feb 22, 2015 Laura rated it did not like it
Thursbitch follows two separate narratives, one of a paganistic salt trader in the 18th century and one of a woman with dementia in the modern day, both of whom travel through a certain part of the English landscape. This book came recommended to me from several sources who seemed kind of trustworthy. The first chapter was hard work but quite poetic. The second chapter was absolutely dreadful but I decided to soldier on anyway. It went on like this...for 158 pages.

The only redeeming feature of
Feb 12, 2013 Maxine rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 06, 2012 Jenny rated it it was ok
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
Mike Niewodowski
Aug 18, 2013 Mike Niewodowski rated it liked it

“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
Isabel (kittiwake)
Dec 03, 2011 Isabel (kittiwake) rated it liked it
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,
Ian Mapp
Apr 17, 2012 Ian Mapp rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 26, 2013 SmokingMirror rated it really liked it
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
Apr 26, 2013 M M rated it really liked it
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,
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*~Can't Stop Read...: Thursbitch 7 18 Aug 16, 2013 03:15AM  
  • Dining on Stones
  • Adjunct: An Undigest
  • Islands
  • The Lambs of London
  • Schooling
  • Small Remedies
  • The Light of Day
  • In the Forest
  • Vanishing Point
  • Shroud
  • Celestial Harmonies
  • That They May Face The Rising Sun
  • Gabriel's Gift
  • The Red Queen
  • Spring Flowers, Spring Frost
  • The Colour
  • The Heart of Redness
  • An Obedient Father
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 about Alan Garner...

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