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Book Review: Addlands by Tom Bullough

getimageIn celebration of all things Welsh, Emma from Bookish in Crickhowell has selected this stunning fourth novel by Tom Bullough who lives locally in the Brecon Beacons.

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.It’s an elegy to the changing countryside, and the ordinary heroism of those wedded to it, hard-working and hard-playing, and the inevitable losses and gains as time marches on. 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.

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.

Emma Corfield-Walters of Book-ish, Crickhowell

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