"Harvest" by Jim Crace

In an isolated English village, the inhabitants go to sleep, having finished their harvest and looking forward to a day of rest.  But what they awake to will turn their tiny community upside down.  

Two columns of smoke fill the air.  The first is from a fire that has destroyed the master's outbuildings.  The second is from a hastily built dwelling put up by newcomers on the edge of the village.  The two are connected and the newcomers have announced their arrival which sets off a course of events that change the village's way of life forever.

Harvest by Jim Crace is a dark, unsettling novel, a story that transports the reader to a simpler setting which unfortunately can't hide from the rest of the world forever.  Told from the perspective of Walter, an outsider who joined the community over a decade ago, the book paints the picture of an idyllic town built on hard work and communal sacrifice.

There isn't much information given about the village in terms of time, place, and description and yet the reader is able to paint for themselves a wonderful picture of all that the village could be.  The lack of information builds up the suspense of what is to come.  The book reads as a fable or parable, a lesson to be learned from the past for all who are reading it.  

I don't like to give away too much in my reviews, so I'm not going to discuss the newcomers and what happens after their arrival, just how interesting I found it that life can be changed completely in only a matter of days.  This was a very strange book for me to read.  It's not the typical book book I pick up and in the beginning I wondered if I was going to be able to finish it.  I wasn't really connecting to the characters or their responses to what was occurring around them.  But for some reason, I couldn't stop turning the pages!  I enjoyed the writing, it created real suspense for me the entire way through.  I think ultimately, what stops me from really liking this book is I just don't feel like it gave me enough in the end.  

I have never read anything by Jim Crace before, but since reading this book I've read some great things about his past work.  I would love to hear if you have read any of his previous works, or this one.  This is not a bad book and I even recommend reading it, I just can't put my finger on what I feel is missing.


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