Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Clay” as Want to Read:
Clay
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Clay

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  353 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews
The city is a strange place for Jozef. After living in a Polish village for much of his life, he is struggling to adjust to the tall, grey landscape of apartment living, and his job in a local deli serving french fries and fried chicken to brash, self-assured children makes him feel even more disconnected from the surrounding population. It is only when he encounters TC, a ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published February 19th 2013 by Bloomsbury USA (first published January 3rd 2013)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Clay, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Clay

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
|
Filter
Jane
May 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Melissa Harrison’s first novel weaves together a human story of four people whose lives are changed when their paths cross with the story of the seasons changing in a city centre park that those four people all love.

TC is 10 years-old, his dad has recently left, he has no real friends, and mother often forgets to give him lunch money or to have food in the house for other meals. And so he spends his time in the park, using the book about nature that his father had left behind – wrapped ready for
...more
Michelle Despres
Jan 09, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: novel
It's difficult for me to comment on this book. Based on the description, it should have been a five for me.

Here's what I didn't like: It was tedious at times. Imagine someone walks into a wooded area or garden or some other natural scene and describes every single detail of that scene. And that description lacks whatever it is that draws you in. That's what some of this book felt like.

I understand that the natural places in this book were characters themselves and that love of the natural world
...more
Paul
Jan 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2016
The tiny city park is a hub and a focus for many of the local residents. Sophia sees its beauty even through the litter as it is blown around in the wind. A nine year old boy, TC, is discovering the joy that nature can bring as he plays truant from school to explore and discover. Sophia’s granddaughter Daisy who lives round the corner just sees it as a place to play. And there is Jozef, a farmer from Poland, he is now clearing homes and serving at a takeaway, but still has that yearning for the ...more
Eli Brooke
Sep 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
I enjoyed it up until the very end, but I hated the relentlessly brutal ending. Harrison favors "realism" over hope, which I recognize is as valid an outlook as any, so this is an emotional response.

Literature doesn't have to be uplifting, but... [expletive]! The psychology of the characters and their interactions, especially how they could connect but don't, is very well drawn, as is the beauty of the natural world and the way they each seek solace within it. It would have been unrealistic to
...more
Anton
I'm from New Zealand so I like my free stuff. I feel like a failure if I fill my plate less than four times at a buffet, and at a wedding or work Christmas party it's rare to find me with fewer than two drinks in my hands at any one time. This novel being the first Goodreads freebie I've read, I was hoping it'd be a five star gem for me. Not sure how it works - if I give a bad review will I not win free books again??
Anyway 'Clay' is short but it meanders like a river. There are no rivers in 'Cl
...more
Claudia
Feb 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I was sent this book by a friend who thought I'd really like it - and she was right! It's set in and around an urban park and common in South London, where large numbers of city-dwellers pass through without truly appreciating the plants and animals living there. This is not the case for 9-year-old TC, Polish immigrant Jozef and local grandmother Sophia, who all take comfort and pleasure from noticing and interacting with the wildlife around them through the seasons. Their relationships with oth ...more
Gavin Felgate
Apr 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing


Melissa Harrison's debut novel opens with a young boy called TC being questioned by social workers about his relationship with Jozef, a Polish fast food worker. From here, it flashes back to the sequence of events that lead up to this moment.

The book introduces the reader to the main characters; TC comes from a broken home, his mother doesn't seem to pay much attention to him, and doesn't even realise that he is skipping school to pursue his interests in wildlife. His Dad has left home, and it i
...more
Heather Noble
Feb 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An over-protected child, a neglected child, a Polish immigrant and an old lady living lives of differing loneliness. They each find meaning in the nature and small animal life of a nearby park. Their lives sometimes overlap and they seem to communicate and take comfort from each other in small ways and yet this reader, at least, could not relax as an overwhelming foreboding stalked the narrative.

I like Jon McGregor and Robert Macfarlane and the writing has echoes of both.


I look forward to more.
Irishmaddoc
Jan 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
This was a goodreads giveaway and sounded like the kind of book I enjoy. It's about people and the impact they can have on each other's lives.

I thought it was a beautifully written book full of snippets of real life, like Sophia and the daffodil bulbs and her threadbare tea towels. I was all set to give it 5 stars until the end. It was so sad and brutal. In many ways it reminded me of Atonement, the devastation that one thing can have on so many lives.

Would I recommend this book? Yes and I woul
...more
Liz
Jun 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a really beautiful book. I felt immersed in the world of the characters from the moment I started reading, probably because Melissa Harrison's descriptive prose is incredibly vivid. I loved the main character TC - I could really relate to him. This is one of those stories that will stay with you after you read it.
Judi Gait
Oct 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Loved it! Often when I read I skip the descriptive bits in order to focus on the story. It was the other way round here. The descriptions of the wildlife, weather conditions and seasonal variation were magical! Great to have my love of wildlife nurtured in a novel.
Tango
Feb 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a terrific little book. Clay follows the lives of several lonely individuals who all find connections, both with each other and through the natural environment, that help them to recover from the losses in their lives. Set in London but with vivid descriptions of gardens and their inhabitants, both flora and fauna, the setting acts, perhaps not as a character but as a catalyst for change, a refuge and a way to connect with what is important in life.

The ending, sadly, was a let down, with
...more
Sandy Hogarth
Aug 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A remarkable and sensitive story of an eight year old boy, TC, of Josef a Polish farmer, and Sophia, 78, who loves her grand daughter, Daisy. Their marginalized lives intermingle. TC skips school, obsessed with wild life. They are all lonely and lost. Josef befriends TC, in a gentle, caring way but which ultimately leads to trouble. Melissa Harrison’s feel for nature in all its forms is a joy, her language lyrical, her characters complex and true. I’d like to take TC home with me. Rarely have I ...more
Suvi
Sep 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Beautifully written, but in the end rather depressing book about a lonely boy, a lonely immigrant, a lonely pensioner and a park that brings them together.
Runningrara
Aug 12, 2014 rated it did not like it
A boring book which got interesting in the last 3 pages. Some beautiful writing. Lots of waffle. The elements of good social observation got lost amongst descriptions of trees...blah, blah, blah.
Bec
Mar 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: no-one
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Catherine
Nov 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An interesting novel about loneliness and our disconnection from nature. It centres on a run down city park and four main characters whose lives intersect through their use of the park: Sophia, an elderly widow who refuses to move from her flat in a now run-down estate because she loves overlooking the park; TC, a neglected boy from a nearby tower block who studies the park wildlife while playing truant from school; Josef, who lost his Polish farm after the fall of communism and now works in a t ...more
Elaine Armstrong
Sep 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lovely read

This is a writer who can set the scenes brilliantly with descriptions of people and sets which you can see in your minds eye. They storyline is different and absorbing, with an ending you cannot guess at. I would have given this five stars but the only criticism I have is that the author loves to use words that really no one is familiar with and my reading was interrupted having to look them up. It is unnecessary and a little irritating. I have an excellent vocabulary and if I came ac
...more
Ivan Monckton
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A story based on a disparate group of characters, all of them pretty ordinary, located around a couple of streets and some patches of rough greenery in a city. Does not sound like the most promising plot, but, believe me, this book is both beautiful and riveting. The main characters are so real and sympathetically drawn, the nature observations so beautiful, it is difficult to believe this is a first novel. In short, the book is superb, and I can thoroughly recommend it.
Barbara
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
The storyline was obvious from the first chapter and the book failed to build any tension.
Some of the descriptive pieces were engaging, but there was too much focus on descriptions of nature. This stopped the characters from being well describes and well rounded - they were all a little one dimensional and I didn't feel any empathy with anyone. A bit disappointing overall.
Merry
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is truly a beautiful book. Very urban, very much a story of now - and yet poetic. And haunting. It's one I can immediately say I will read again.

I also live next to a park in a London suburb and I spend my working life outside in nature. I have read nothing like it before and it really resonated with me. A gem.
Suzanne Ashworth
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a haunting book and a strong message - characters are very well drawn and the message is close to my heart. How much we have lost in terms of our links with the land and nature - this book is so true and ultimately so sad - thought-provoking and recommended.
Catherine Davison
The Goodreafs review by Michelle Despres sums up eloquently my own response to this sometimes beautiful but mostly tedious book. I far preferred Harrison's second novel. I felt she gave too much weight to descriptions of nature at the expense of narrative tension.
Cherry E. Taylor
I loved this book but was surprised by the ending.
I so enjoy the descriptions of the flora and fauna. You are right there living within the book. I haven’t read books like that before where the descriptions suck you I’m so to speak!
I was finishing the book at three am this morning!
Hilary Campbell
Sep 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love the way the seasons and nature are key elements to the story and are actively healing for the wounded characters. Beautiful and heart-breaking. I wish the ending were different.
Dixie
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Beautifully written but I really didn't like where it went in the end. Didn't feel true to the story and didn't do right by the characters. Too bad.
Leen Pauwels
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As a nature lover myself, this book was a feast of recognition for me.
Ardene
Dec 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012, fiction, ecology
I enjoyed Clay: a novel by Melissa Harrison. This story covers a calendar year in the lives of several people and one dog in urban London. What they all have in common is use of and a relationship to a small natural area. (As far as I can figure out, some of it is formally what we in Atlanta refer to as a park, and some is just area that hasn’t been formally developed or claimed by human beings). The three main human characters are lonely – their relationships to other people aren’t enough – and ...more
Geraldine
Enjoyable tale well written.

I started following Melissa on Twitter because she is local and we share a love for Tooting Common. I then realised that her At Hawthorn Time was shortlisted for the Costa award, which strikes me as an impressive achievement. I congratulated her and in the course of conversation she pointed out that this book, Clay, was set on Tooting Common.

I like how she fictionalised the geography. I know (mainly) the places she is describing and the topography doesn't make sense,
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • A Hollow in the Hills
  • Boneland (Tales of Alderley, #3)
  • The Story of Before
  • Graveland
  • The Simple Gift
  • An Apprentice to Elves (Iskryne World, #3)
  • Secrecy
  • The Hunger Trace
  • Why Weren't We Told?
  • The Infidel Stain (The Blake and Avery Mystery Series #2)
  • Two Little Trains
  • Mimi
  • Siding Star
  • The Snuff Syndicate
  • Fly Away Peter
  • The Penguin Henry Lawson: Short Stories
  • The Gamal
  • Professor Payne's Intrepid Time Travelers (A Leap Behind Series, #1)
61 followers
Melissa Harrison is the author of the novels Clay and At Hawthorn Time, which was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award and longlisted for the Bailey's Women's Prize, and one work of non-fiction, Rain, which was longlisted forthe Wainwright Prize. She is a nature writer, critic and columnist for The Times, the Financial Times and the Guardian, among others. Her new novel All Among the Barley is du ...more
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »