Addlands by Tom Bullough
A Novel

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I found myself reading and rereading certain sections, trying to sift clues from otherwise oblique references to events; fortunately, this is a novel that easily repays the effort.
-Financial Times

Synopsis

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.

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.

Advance 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. Addlands appears to be a tale of the Welsh borders, told through the battles, loves, and losses of its Heathcliff hero, Oliver, but it is much more—the story of how the land made us all, and how the last century has changed us. Zola would have saluted it and pressed copies on his friends.”—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


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Tom Bullough

See more books from this Author
Tom Bullough was born in 1975 and is the author of two previous novels. He lives in Breconshire, in mid-Wales, with his wife and young son.
 
Published August 16, 2016 by The Dial Press. 336 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Addlands
All: 4 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Above average
on May 24 2016

Piety, pugnacity, and secrets shape the lives of a rural Welsh family across 70 years...A serious if sometimes-overgrown farm tale.

Read Full Review of Addlands: A Novel | See more reviews from Kirkus

Financial Times

Above average
Reviewed by Melissa Harrison on Jun 10 2016

I found myself reading and rereading certain sections, trying to sift clues from otherwise oblique references to events; fortunately, this is a novel that easily repays the effort.

Read Full Review of Addlands: A Novel | See more reviews from Financial Times

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by STEPHANIE CROSS on Jul 03 2016

Like many nature writers, Bullough has a flair for alchemical descriptions, thrillingly repurposing adjectives and verbs. But although he also clearly savours the tang of his characters’ tongues, their speech is never fetishised, and any shadow of earnestness is dispelled by occasional, gloriously unexpected sunbursts of humour.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Jem Poster on Jun 11 2016

If, in chronicling seven decades of farming life in a small corner of a changing world, he inevitably sounds an elegiac note, he also makes it clear that we’re far from finished, either with the land itself or with our evolving versions of pastoral.

Read Full Review of Addlands: A Novel | See more reviews from Guardian
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