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The Siege of Trencher's Farm

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  442 ratings  ·  61 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
Paperback, 192 pages
Published August 16th 2011 by Titan Books (first published 1969)
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Average rating 3.48  · 
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Aug 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Chris Meigh
Jan 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
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. ...more
Peter Ayscough
Jan 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Probably most people that have an interest in this book will have been drawn to it by an interest in the films (Straw Dogs) which it inspired. It's therefore probably worth establishing straight away that the films (at least the first one - I haven't seen the remake) divert from the book quite substantially. Some main differences (note - some of the following might be considered spoilers) are:

- In the film (as I recall), the village was the wife's childhood home. In the book this is not the case
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
Amelia M.A.
Sep 14, 2011 rated it liked it
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.
Jun 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
I thought it was really good. Good action sequences, very visceral and visual.
Stylo Fantome
Jun 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
Aug 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
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
EZRead eBookstore
Sep 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: amelia-reviews
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
Daniel Polansky
An effeminate American professor and his shrewish, beautiful wife, find themselves besieged by inbred English peasants. It can be a thin line between examining our instincts for violence indiscriminately glorifying in them, and this taught little thriller, the basis for the Peckinpah classic Straw Dogs (and, apparently, a no doubt horrible remake), doesn’t quite meet the line. The first three quarters are a razor-sharp dissection of the fears and anxieties which are the core of masculine self-id ...more
Apr 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
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!
Thom Dunn
Copyright 1969, original title, "The Siege of Trencher's Farm".....In front, floorplans of the farmhouse.

Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was well written and fast paced once I got past the first few pages. The movie and book are quite a bit different but both are very good in there own way. Definitely worth a read. I really enjoyed this story.
Dec 30, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Samantha Leighanne
Oct 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed, 2011-reads
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 and await the arrival of the police and a doctor. But a group of lo ...more
Jonathan Sturak
Sep 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
David Keaton
Finally found a copy of this book to solve the mystery of the title "Straw Dogs" after all these years. And of course, this phrase is never mentioned in the text! In the Peckinpah movie, it was the baffling tagline on the poster, "In the eyes of every coward burns a straw dog," while in the remake, David talks about "an ancient Chinese ritual where 'straw dogs' were treated with reverence until they were no longer needed and tossed aside." Apparently like... the former high-school football stars ...more
Andrew Scarpati
Feb 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fun read that is breakneck in speed.
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
AHA! The book that Straw Dogs (2011) was based on. I really wanted to get this down, I knew it was a loose adaptation so I wasn't going to get a lot of insight into Amy's mindset in the first part of that movie where she more or less just goes berserk, in her bet to provoke David into a passion about something, anything!

I really liked how the characters develop over the course of the book. The change in both George and Louise throughout the book is phenomenal and amazing to watch. Especially, af
Axel Howerton
Sep 20, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Russell Bittner
Jul 22, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Mar 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Sure this book is a bit sexist (not as much as the movie though) and definitely the wife character is loathsome, but the fact is its still really really good.

Generally, I found the book superior to the movie (I have only seen the original not the remake) on almost all levels. The only thing I liked more about the film was its darker and more ambiguous ending scene. But in general, this was chock full of both the perspective of the 'yokels' as well as the town background to explain why events tra
May 10, 2017 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
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! ...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.
Cee Martinez
Sep 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Intense and a Page Turner

I could not put this book down. It is a smooth read that moves swiftly. There are a lot of interesting issues brought up about politics and gender in marriage and in between city and country folk.

Some of it is a bit dated, especially Louise's secret desire to be dominated by her husband.

The action and suspense is quite good and moves with the pace of a movie. I recommend this!
Hilton Neves
Jan 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Who'd a thunk it? There's also a very tough Compton in Cornwall, England. I wanted to give it 4½ stars, this is something goodreads must work out. An impressive, thumping George transformation, and... *pulls a Gene Wilder in meme* - Please tell me about(view spoiler) Sorry, just yanking his chain. ...more
Oct 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 14, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Dean Moberly
Jan 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is tailor-made for couples on the verge of splitting over irreconcilable differences. Violence rarely comes accross as so reasonable.
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Aka P.B. Yuill, joint pseudonym with Terry Venables.

Gordon Maclean Williams was 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 (196

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