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Harvest

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  7,458 ratings  ·  1,002 reviews
As late summer steals in and the final pearls of barley are gleaned, a village comes under threat. A trio of outsiders – two men and a dangerously magnetic woman – arrives on the woodland borders and puts up a make-shift camp. That same night, the local manor house is set on fire.

Over the course of seven days, Walter Thirsk sees his hamlet unmade: the harvest blackened by
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Paperback, 272 pages
Published February 14th 2013 by Picador (first published February 12th 2013)
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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.

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3.61  · 
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 ·  7,458 ratings  ·  1,002 reviews


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Annet
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
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Clare
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
Wolf
Apr 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
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Jill
Nov 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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·Karen·
Oct 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing

Brilliant

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.
Cheryl
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
Jake Goretzki
Feb 22, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Gumble's Yard
The story has a symbolic setting: a peasant village in deep country evocative of 15th-16th Century England. The events of the work take place over one week which includes the harvest festival.

Incredibly evocative book – the writing drips with the atmosphere of Harvest, of the rhythm of seasons and the timelessness of the villagers’ life, of the land and nature as an unceasing master. Key themes are: clearly the Enclosure and the abrupt change it engendered in an almost ageless bucolic lifestyle;
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Katie
Dec 27, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Ian
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
Teresa
Jan 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Kinga
Feb 22, 2013 rated it liked it
“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
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Fiona
I just didn’t have patience for this book. I can appreciate the care Crace has taken to describe the social conditions of the time and the fear of change experienced by people with no leverage to resist. It was very Thomas Hardy-esque in that respect but reached nowhere near those dizzy heights of excellence. I got bored and life is too short to waste on books that leave me cold.
Elaine
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
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Paul Fulcher
An impressive return to form by Jim Crace, in what he expected to be his last novel.

Ostensibly a historical novel - about the enclosure of common land in the UK - Crace consciously rejects the usual rules of historical fiction. He is careful not to state where the book is set - even the villagers have no name for their dwelling other than "The Village" - or when in time it is set with no reference to external events by which is could be dated. Potential signposts - such as the mention of mauve,
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Diane S ☔
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.
Antonomasia
[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
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Doug H - On Hiatus
Nov 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Lee
Aug 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-top-reads
Grows in stature in the mind in the days after reading, and scenes from the book have lingered sharply. And if it doesn't win the Booker Prize I'll eat my copy. Put your money down!
Steve
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
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Lou
Feb 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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."

"But,
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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
Michael
Oct 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
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Shelley Fearn
Feb 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Eric Anderson
Feb 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Have you ever finished a book and you know it’s affected you on some deep subliminal level because you have very vivid dreams that evening? This has happened to me before when I read the fantastic nightmarish graphic novel Lost Girls by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie. I think with that book the dreams were instigated by Gebbie’s powerful drawings. It’s happened again with Harvest and in this case I think it’s because of Crace’s masterful use of language and his subject matter.

Read my full review
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Jackie
The story is set in a remote village, who knows where, in a period who knows when, with people thrown together in family groups with family loyalties the critical factor, under the benign guidance of Mr Kent who married the daughter of the late squire. The village works the land for Mr Kent until it transpire that Mrs Kent died without a son which means the land reverts to a male cousin. Mr. Jordan and his henchmen arrive after buildings have been burned by local lads but the blame is placed on ...more
Sam
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
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
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Dillwynia Peter
Dec 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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David Kenvyn
Oct 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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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
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“There's solace in the thought that I will never finish missing her.” 38 likes
“These are the stories that we tell ourselves and only ourselves, and they are better left unshared.” 10 likes
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