reviews

 
 

PECULIAR GROUND

'An extraordinarily accomplished first novel... It is long, rich, dense, capacious and complicated... It is also absolutely involving, thanks to beautiful description and a very fine understanding of human emotion. There are fools and witches and changeling children, eavesdroppers, arrases and mazes, and there is something almost Tolstoyan in its sly wit and descriptive brilliance...Peculiar Ground  is marvellously subtle: like its images, its preoccupations are allowed to develop in a way that feels both organic and magical. Its central image, of a society enclosed by a wall that is as dangerous as it is protective, could not be more pertinent to our world of hardening borders, and yet it resists easy interpretation...  Humane, thoughtful, compelling and packed with magic, this is a remarkable achievement.' Christobel Kent - The Guardian

'Peculiar Ground is a rich layering of history and fiction....  erudite, elegant but easy-going.  This memorable story of place and transience is one of the best novels of the year so far.' Melissa Katsoulis - The Times


I was much taken by the shimmer of Lucy Hughes-Hallett’s novel Peculiar Ground, a powerful and resonant piece of work. Joseph O'Connor - Irish Times

'A teeming, heaving whirligig of a novel that opens in Restoration England just after the Civil War, before accelerating forward to various points in the 20th century. Throughout the plot, the one constant is the setting — an enchanted, grand old English country pile.... Ideas of control and power, refuge and rebellion, run through this story like minerals through rock, with a key section set in 1989, when the Berlin Wall came down... Hughes-Hallett retains terrific control of her subject matter in a novel beautifully alert to the repeating patterns of personal and political history.' Clare Allfree - Daily Mail   

'LUCY Hughes-Hallett’s first novel initially seems to be a straightforward story of the gradual fall of a great English estate.  But in its carefully framed structure and in the elegance of her prose the book soon reveals itself as a more subtle and powerful achievement, making profound thematic links between the turbulent politics of the mid-17th century and the surprisingly fluid ideologies of the Cold War period, as well as with our increasingly illiberal age.'   Richard Strachan - Herald Scotland 

'A richly imagined, impressively detailed exploration of people in a landscape and the changes that history and the passing of time impose upon them....admirably ambitious and well-written ... “Are we making a second Paradise here, or a prison?” Norris muses at one point. The answer, according to this original and intriguing novel, would seem to be: “Both.”'  Nick Rennison - Sunday Times    

'Hughes-Hallett has already enjoyed critical acclaim as a biographer..It seems extraordinary that she should have taken so long to come to fiction, when she writes so instinctively with a novelist’s imagination.Peculiar Ground is an ambitious and accomplished debut.... Hughes-Hallett marshals her large cast with sensitivity, succeeding in making even her minor players invite empathy. The fragmentary, non-linear style that made The Pike so original also works well here to create a polyphonic narrative, and she has a sharp ear for dialogue .'  Stephanie Merrit - The Observer 

'Lucy Hughes-Hallett’s ambitious first novel dances between past and present, history and modernity. The landscape of this novel – its grounds and waters and walls – is magically and movingly evoked, and remains in the imagination long after the reader passes beyond its gates.' Erica Wagner - New Statesman  

'This happy, tragic, ever expanding and literally groundbreaking story focuses mainly on the ambiguous nature of walls.' Andrew Barrow - Spectator

'Feted biographer Lucy Hughes-Hallett deftly loops together the accounts of the sprawling cast of utterly believable characters to create a sensual meditation on the nature of Paradise.' Gwendolyn Smith - Mail on Sunday

'Lucy Hughes-Hallett won the Costa Biography Award for her insightful, intriguing portrait of Italian poet Gabriele d'Annunzio in The Pike.  It was chock-full of colourful characters and startling incidents and this clever, compelling novel is similarly rich.  This brilliant novel explores notions of ownership and inheritance, freedom and imprisonment as it twists and turns through the ages.'  Eithne Farry - Sunday Express

'Elegant, inventive, mystical' Ben Lawrence - Sunday Telegraph

'This elegant, witty novel of ideas' Ruth Scurr - Times Literary Supplement

'A wide-reaching, ambitious epic of a book...  Hughes-Hallett writes with great intelligence... and she's a cracking story-teller too'  Jaine Blackman - Oxford Times

'Hughes-Hallett, an accomplished biographer, has orchestrated that rare thing: a fresh classic. Ambitious, satisfying and mature, Peculiar Ground is spell-binding.' Caroline Jackson - Country Life

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33870669-peculiar-ground