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The Levels

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  55 ratings  ·  6 reviews
Set in the Somerset Levels, a hidden world where lives Billy, by trade a basket maker, by inclination an innocent and regretful thinker whose days are spent with his mother who cannot help shouting, his father who cannot help getting into trouble, chickens who can't help dying and Dick, a childhood friend grown to adolescence but not maturity. Baskets are made and sold, ee ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published December 12th 1988 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 1987)
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3.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  55 ratings  ·  6 reviews


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Val
May 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A young man, Billy, grows up in the Somerset levels and becomes a basket maker. This is a traditional craft of the area, although it is dying out. He does not really choose his job, he follows his father in the craft and does not have many other opportunities in the area.
As a teenager, Billy has a summer romance with a girl whose artist mother rents the local 'haunted house' for a while, before the daughter goes to college in London. We know from the start that Billy and Muriel do not stay toget
...more
Jim
Oct 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Drove House has always loomed large over village life. Boarded-up for years, it is reputed to be brimming with ghosts, and is shunned by the locals - all except Billy, for whom it has been the site of childhood dens and secret adolescent adventures. When the captivating Muriel moves in with her bohemian mother, they sweep out the ghosts and breathe new life into both the house and Billy's quiet rural existence. After an idyllic summer, though, Muriel returns to her life in London, and the newly ...more
Clive Newnham
Jul 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
I read The Levels shortly after Cider With Rosie (Laurie Lee). It makes a very comparable read which I thoroughly enjoyed and very much recommend.
Kate Tilley
Nov 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Really beautifully rendered and quite depressing.
Colin
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In his first novel, Peter Benson brilliantly captures what it is like to grow up in a very rural environment. The story of Billy, a basket maker in the heart of the Somerset Levels, and a doomed teenage romance, it is one of the best books I've read for capturing how life is lived (or at least, how it was lived - the book was first published in 1987) among the rural poor. I grew up in a farming community in Norfolk in the sixties and seventies, and so many of the characters, their attitudes, lim ...more
Tracey Gemmell
Nov 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
A delightful, humourous, poignant look at bygone life in rural Somerset. The joys and tears of first love, quirky characters, and ancient willow basket weaving traditions make this an absorbing read.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Peter Benson was born in 1956 in Kent, UK and is the award-winning author of seven novels. His work has been described as ‘a far-reaching exploration into unlikely relationships’ and is characterised by the precision of its language, characterisations and approach.
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