The stark beauty of the Welsh countryside is given powerful life in this sweeping tale of one family from World War II to the present day, for readers of Alice Munro, Kent Haruf, Bruce Chatwin, and Louise Erdrich.
Addlands (i.e., headlands): the border of plough land which is ploughed last of all.
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The patriarch of Funnon Farm is Idris Hamer, stubborn, strong, a man of the plough and the prayer-sheet, haunted by his youth in the trenches of France. The son is Oliver, a junior boxing champion and hell-raising local legend who seems from birth inextricably rooted to his corner of Wales. Bridging these two men’s uneasy relationship is Etty, a woman born into a world unequipped to deal with her. Following the Hamer family for seventy years, this novel’s beauty is in its pure and moving prose, and its brilliant insight into a traditional way of life splintering in the face of inevitable change. Addlands is also a tale of blood feuds and momentous revelations, of the great dramas that simmer beneath the surface of the everyday. Through all the upheavals of the twentieth century, the only constant is the living presence of the land itself, a dazzling, harsh, and haunting terrain that Tom Bullough conjures with the skill and grace of a master.
Praise for Addlands
“This is the book we have been waiting for from Tom Bullough, a complete work of art, astonishingly beautiful, deeply moving, and gripping from first to last.”—Horatio Clare, winner of the Somerset Maugham Award
“Tom Bullough’s story of one family’s struggle in a world of continuity and change is beautifully imagined and exquisitely told—passionate, lyrical, profound, sad, and sometimes, too, when you least expect it, very funny.”—Carys Davies, winner of the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award
“Addlands is a gorgeous and painstaking evocation of the land and those who work it. Bullough’s writing is a joy—disciplined, observant, and musical, blissfully free of cliché.”—Andrew Miller, winner of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
“An absolutely splendid book . . . Bullough roots the reader in the Welsh landscape, which like all inhabited landscapes is a place in flux—he wants us to make it our home, to get a sense of its light and shadow and textures. Of this place he’s made a world that is rich and absorbing. Every time I’d pick up Addlands to read, I did so with relish—to return to these pages is to come back to terrain so lushly imagined that it feels luxurious to spend time there.”—John Darnielle, New York Times bestselling author of Wolf in White Van
“Addlands is a mesmerisingly beautiful experience, a haunting fusion of person, place, and history. It is a really important contribution to the literature of the Welsh borders.”—Gerard Woodward
“Marrow-deep in its connection to place yet global in its thematic exploration and significance, Addlands does what literature should unstintingly aspire to do: make individual lives the essential stuff of epic. In crystalline, perfect, and stunning prose, Tom Bullough sites, convincingly and movingly, the entire history of these islands in a small section of Radnorshire. It’s an astonishing work of words”—Niall Griffiths
Welsh novelist Bullough's fourth novel his first published stateside traces a farming family's 70-year descent into what one minor character calls "post-pastoral" life in rural Wales, beset over the years by a stream of difficulties that are by turns singular and historically common. As far back as 1941, Idris, the family's stern if stolid patriarch, finds "defiance in precision, in a tidy job, and if his neighbors took it for acquiescence, well, there it was." When his young wife, Etty, gives birth to a son, Oliver, she hopes he'll get a proper education. As it happens, Oliver becomes a local boxing champion for a time before settling into his place as head of the farm and, on account of his bar-brawling exploits, a figure of dubious local lore. With the farm perpetually treading water, the savvy Etty must drag Idris and later Oliver into the future, for which they're both ill-equipped. The struggle between old and new is ever-present, but this novel is foremost about the rural paradox of the coexistent sensitivity and brutality spurred by isolation. Bullough's intimate depictions extend from the "trembling" bluebells and rain-beaten sycamores with their five-pointed leaves to a cow's gory demise a page later, and in one of the book's more unnervingly gorgeous descriptions, a ewe's miscarriage rates a distinctly Welsh meter of anapests cut through with iambs: "In her lee was a lamb in an afterbirth slick its eyes red pits, its chin so bloody that it might have been feasting on flesh."