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Larchfield (Paperback)
  • Larchfield (Paperback)
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Larchfield (Paperback)

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£8.99
Paperback 368 Pages / Published: 08/03/2018
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'We need the courage to choose ourselves' - W. H. Auden

It's early summer when a young poet, Dora Fielding, moves to Helensburgh on the west coast of Scotland and her hopes are first challenged. Newly married, pregnant, she's excited by the prospect of a life that combines family and creativity. She thinks she knows what being a person, a wife, a mother, means.

She is soon shown that she is wrong.

As the battle begins for her very sense of self, Dora comes to find the realities of small town life suffocating, and, eventually, terrifying; until she finds a way to escape reality altogether.

She finds herself drawn into the life of another poet, Wystan H. Auden. Brilliant and awkward at 24, with his first book of poetry published, Auden should be embarking on success and society in London. Instead, in 1930, fleeing a broken engagement, he takes a teaching post at Larchfield School for boys where he is mocked for his Englishness and suspected - rightly - of homosexuality. Yet in this repressed limbo Wystan finds love for the first time, even as he fights his deepest fears.

The need for human connection compels these two vulnerable outsiders to find each other and make a reality of their own that will save them both.

Echoing the fluency and authenticity of Possession, the elegance of The Stranger's Child and the ingenuity of Longbourn, Larchfield is a beautiful and haunting novel about loneliness, endurance and the unusual bravery that allows unusual people to go on living, to transcend banality and suffering with the power of imagination.

'Larchfield is that rarest of rare first novels - a book that actually achieves its great ambition. I found it so immensely readable; it's brainy, verbally acute and knowing, with an ingenious literary historical premise that it impressively (and artfully) carries off right in front of your eyes. It's work of considerable talent.' - Richard Ford

Publisher: Quercus Publishing
ISBN: 9781786481955
Number of pages: 368
Weight: 260 g
Dimensions: 196 x 128 x 28 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

'An atmospheric, haunting time-slip novel about a new mother struggling to survive in a claustrophobic town where poet WH Auden lived' - Charlotte Heathcote, Sunday Times, S Magazine

'Clark has a wonderful eye for detail and a light comic touch . . . A funny, poised, and affecting meditation on the healing power of poetry' - Daisy Dunn, The Times

'That Polly Clark is a poet is never in doubt throughout this imaginative novel, written with poetic force . . . This is a beautifully constructed novel with a wealth of detail and characterisation. Moving and wonderful.' - Daily Express

'A book one doesn't want to put down' - Daily Mail

'Larchfield is that rarest of rare first novels - a book that actually achieves its great ambition. I found it so immensely readable; it's brainy, verbally acute and knowing, with an ingenious literary historical premise that it impressively (and artfully) carries off right in front of your eyes. It's work of considerable talent.' - Richard Ford

'This is a mysterious, wondrous, captivating book' - Louis de Bernieres *

'Magical and transcendent . . . I suspect that few debuts in 2017 will match the elegance of Larchfield. This is a beautiful novel: passionate, lyrical and surprising. I will remember Larchfield for a long time.' - John Boyne, Irish Times

'Larchfield is beautifully eloquent about that quotidian kind of courage that so often goes overlooked: that fortitude that allows us to engage compassion through our loneliness, and to construct a future in which our truest selves might fit.' - Jim Shepard

'A story beautifully and passionately rendered' - Margie Orford

'Wonderful characters and set pieces' - Di Speirs

'The sense of danger hanging over the characters kept me reading until past midnight' - Marina Lewycka

'A deft and moving portrayal of isolation' - Juliet Mushens

'Brava brava! Most satisfying thing I've read this year. Beautiful.' - Brian Chikwava

'A fine novel of rich mysteries. What an original way to explore the assembling or collapse of identity; the reader has a powerful sense of a kind of vortex into which the two main characters are drawn - with a masterly stroke of unexpected impossibility standing in for a moment of mental collapse. I was riveted.' - John Fuller

'This lyrical novel about the poet WH Auden and a young mother is captivating' - Heat

'A meeting of minds across time, between a modern-day woman poet and a young WH Auden, illustrates the redemptive power of the poetic imagination' - The Lady

So wise, tender, and immaculately written. It's full of such delicate poetry yet I devoured it like a thriller. A beautiful, life-affirming read. * Emylia Hall *

I was absorbed by this rich and atmospheric novel with its brooding sense of isolation, its poetic language and its portrait of a mental breakdown * Fanny Blake *

'A beautiful debut novel about a woman's struggle with isolation and sanity woven into the story of the poet W. H. Auden. It's about bravery, loneliness and survival and was inspired by the author's own plight when she moved to Helensburgh in Scotland and found a connection with Auden that was to change her life' - Foyles

'Striking . . . Clark, a TS Eliot Prize-Shortlisted poet, writes beautifully' Bookseller

'Larchfield is a beautiful debut about a woman's struggle with isolation and sanity woven with the story of poet W. H. Auden, which signals Polly Clark as an author to watch' - i Paper

'A haunting read, this novel charts the bravery that allows unusual people to transcend banality and suffering with the power of their imagination' - Good Housekeeping

'Bringing a long dead poet to brilliant life . . . It makes for a powerful and moving read . . . Clark hits emotional beats with her characters that often take the reader by surprise with their sheer power . . . Moving, powerful and immensely readable, Larchfield is a book of isolation, growth, love and friendship. Hugely recommended and fantastically written; author Polly Clark is a huge talent and one I'll be keen to watch out for in the future' - Luke Marlowe , Bookbag

'Stunning . . . I was lost in this moving and gripping study of isolation' - Fanny Blake, Woman and Home

'A beautifully written debut about outsiders, creativity and motherhood' - Sarra Manning, Red

'A mesmerising time-slip tale . . . a beautiful, poetic story' - Nina Pottell, Prima

An impeccably told story of isolation and creativity, it's as involving as a thriller. -- Hepzibah Anderson * Mail on Sunday *

This quietly beautiful and hugely atmospheric novel is as rich as it is compelling * Heat *

One of those wonderfully rare novels that catches hold of you and reels you effortlessly in from the moment you begin turning its pages . . . A novel about loneliness and finding the strength to be yourself, as well as the power of imagination. In succumbing to this compulsive book, I found myself reminded of that power . . . Its lyricism and imaginative prowess bring to life the inner lives of two poets separated by time -- Edwina Boyd-Gibbins * Stylist *

A magnificent book - haunting and beautifully written -- Alexander McCall Smith * Good Housekeeping *

Congratulations on Larchfield! Helpful imaginary Auden, beset wife, evil upstairsers: gripping turf wars of the mind! * Margaret Atwood *

What a wonderfully satisfying and gratifying book it is: vivid, moving, sympathetic, beautifully shaped, convincingly inventive, and tactful in its approach to painful depths. I enjoyed it enormously. * Edward Mendelson *

For anyone who knows what it feels like to move to a new place and feel lonely, or feel like an outsider, this book will speak to you -- Rachel Revesz * Independent *

Elegant . . . Clark has written a measured and graceful novel; this is particularly true of the way she handles Dora's gradual unravelling. -- Natasha Tripney * Observer *

I have no doubt that the best novel that I have read in the past year was Polly Clark's debut Larchfield. Extraordinarily inventive . . . it is moving, haunting, searingly memorable and a very significant artistic achievement * Michael Russell, MSP *
Brighton City Reads Debut Novelists Night

Brighton City Reads Debut Novelists Night

Brighton
Tuesday 1st May 19:30

Three women writers. Three impressive debut novels... Allie Rogers’ widely praised debut, 'Little Gold' tells the story of a boyish girl on the brink of adolescence, who is struggling with the reality of her broken family and a home descending into chaos, Polly Clark’s memorable debut 'Larchfield' is a beautiful novel about a woman's struggle with isolation and sanity interwoven with a narrative about the poet W. H. Auden. They will be talking to Sharon Duggal (who’s remarkable debut 'The Handsworth Times' was the City Reads book for 2017) discussing the process of writing, finding the right agent and getting published. Recommended for book lovers and aspiring writers alike.

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Reviews

View all

“Beautiful”

A beautiful, moving and passionate read that you won't be able to put down. The story is of poet Dora who moves into a flat with her husband and baby, Doras life suddenly revolves around nothing apart from her... More

Hardback edition
15th February 2017
Helpful? Upvote 146

“A deeply affected story of isolation....”

Polly Clark chronicles two interwoven lives lived apart from each other but somehow close to each other in every sense. We read the story of the young poet Dora newly married and pregnant move to Helensburgh in... More

Hardback edition
14th November 2016
Helpful? Upvote 72

“A wonderful debut, rich in beauty and words.”

One of the most beautifully written novels of 2017 so far and I have no doubt will feature as one of my books of the year. Larchfield the debut novel by Polly Clark already shortlisted for the prestigious T.S. Eliot... More

Hardback edition
22nd March 2017
Helpful? Upvote 52

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