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3.61  ·  Rating details ·  6,385 Ratings  ·  903 Reviews

On the morning after harvest, the inhabitants of a remote English village  awaken looking forward to  a hard-earned day of rest and feasting at their landowner's table. But the sky is marred by two  conspicuous columns of smoke, replacing pleasurable anticipation with alarm and suspicion.
One smoke column is the result of an o
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published February 12th 2013 by Nan A. Talese
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Peter Howard Yes superb - one of the best books I have ever read in the way it creates an atmosphere around one village and concentrates you on it - amazing.

Community Reviews

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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
Mar 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 05, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


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.
Jun 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 22, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Feb 22, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
“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
Jan 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Teresa by: ·Karen·
In much the same way The Crucible is an allegory of McCarthyism, this novel too is a political allegory: mainly, 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 'their own' will not get in trouble.

It's told fr
Aug 10, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
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
O dia chegou ao fim e a luz foi apagada. Avanço a custo pela noite final sem ninguém para entrelaçar a sua mão molhada na minha. E sem ninguém para me tirar o chapéu, como a nossa tradição manda que se faça, quando, por causa do folhelho e da humidade, não consigo evitar um espirro, uma bênção não intencional ao campo. Mas mentiria se dissesse que me sinto tão escuro e tão sombrio como as nuvens. Acho que estou entusiasmado, de certa forma estranha. O campo está lavrado. A semente espalhada. O t ...more
Diane S ☔
Jan 24, 2013 rated it liked it
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.
[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
Mientras Leo
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Toda una sorpresa, muy por encima de loq ue yo esperaba, la verdad
Harvest is a poetic, beautiful read. This book is dense with alluring prose sprinkled with very little dialogue. It feels like a much longer read that it really is, and I can't say it's an easy read, but it is definitely gorgeous.

The storyline is a relatively simple one: The calm order of a remote, pre-industrial English village and the estate upon which it depends is disrupted by a number of events, including the arrival of four mysterious strangers who come into conflict with the villagers. Th
Feb 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
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."

Robert Wechsler
May 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british-lit
Jim Crace goes out in his “last” novel showing that he is the great master of rhythm in English prose. Just reading the novel for this is enough to make it a great reading experience. Add to that the protagonist’s singular (and calmly repulsive) first-person voice and the violent story of a world on the cusp of radical change, and you have a truly great novel. And an important one, considering that we too are on the cusp of a period of radical change, and most of us, like the narrator, are doing ...more
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
Shelley Fearn
Feb 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
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
Doug H
Nov 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Possibly Crace's best novel since 'Quarantine'. It's not a long novel, but it's definitely not a quick read. Every word is carefully placed. This is lyric writing by a master storyteller in full control of his craft and the story he tells is dense with allegory and archetypes. (I had to reread entire paragraphs as I went along in order to absorb a lot of it.) If I'm making this sound like the sort of novel you had to read for a school assignment, it is. But It also happens to be a very compellin ...more
A historical novel set in England. The time and place are unspecified, but it is the pre-industrial era, and a remote village, "two days by post horse, three days by chariot, before you find a market square". This lack of a wider context takes us within the world view of the inbred villagers, who live as their ancestors have always done, and whose horizons extend no further than their parish boundaries. Parents beat their children's heads against the parish boundary stones, so the children will ...more
Well this is a novel and a half, and one I was not expecting to be so emotionally packed or so utterly gripping. It starts with the simple introduction of a harvest in a small village in rural England, before the Enclosure Act, where everyone not only knew everyone else but were related to them in some way. Our narrator, Walter Thirsk, is an outsider but who has become accepted as part of the village (to a certain degree anyway). But then the village is turned upside down as three strangers arri ...more
Martin Zook
Nov 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
David Kenvyn
Oct 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Winner of this this year's Dublin IMPAC award and shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2013, I had every intention of reading this book when I purchased it...

Jim Crace is a well known English writer and reviewer, but for me it's his regular column in The Guardian (Digested Reads) that had me handing over my money in the bookshop.

Several weeks ago I heard a quote from Toltstoy:"All great literature is one of two stories; a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town". As is often the way, I
Dillwynia Peter
Dec 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
The genius of this work is that the author has mastered the iambic rhythm of the English tongue. This is the poetry of Shakespeare spun out in a tale of transition from the medieval commons to the enclosures of the more modern world. How comforting to read these words in rhythms sweet to every ear that to the English of the queen does bend. This is a parable of the loss of place when capital does in its way erase the rights of common man. There is no way to say what harm is done by class to thos ...more
Dec 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: verrassend-goed
In een kleine gemeenschap (onduidelijk blijft waar en wanneer het zich afspeelt) zorgt de komst van een aantal vreemdelingen voor veel onrust en opwinding en uiteindelijk voor zeer ernstige ontwikkelingen. Deze prachtige roman wordt beschreven vanuit het gezichtspunt van Walter Torsk. Door zijn dienstverband bij meester Kent en vooral door het huwelijk met een dorpelinge wordt hij wel opgenomen in het dorp maar hoort er nooit écht bij. En dat wordt nu eens te meer duidelijk.
“ik ben nooit een in
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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 International Impac Dublin Literary Award, 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 Cr
More about Jim Crace...

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