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Hollow in the Land Reviews

Hollow in the Land by James Clarke

Hollow in the Land

James Clarke

Score pending

2 reviews

Imprint: Profile Books Ltd
Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
Publication date: 2 Apr 2020
ISBN: 9781788163514

Out walking Ada Robinson's dog while his wife drinks herself into a forgetful fug, Harry Maiden discovers an intricate system of caves beneath the wind turbines. Over at the Woolpack one night, Rosco re-encounters friendships he thought he'd left behind at the Stubbins paper mill. Mad old Gos leads a mysterious treasure hunt to the Bronze Age burial site at Whitelow Cairn. This is the Hollow in the Land: a corner of England teeming with mystery and intrigue and filled with real, flesh-and-blood characters, each of them at a different point along life's journey through childhood hopefulness, faded first love and middle-aged disillusionment.

4 stars out of 5
Catherine Taylor
7 Jul 2020

"The book offers up a familiar contemporary portrayal of human isolation and economic neglect"

The myths of this valley are timeless and modern: a river spirit is evoked in “Waddington” while an urban legend going by the name of Crustyman slides into two stories set almost two decades apart. The tattooed war veteran in “Field Mouse”, as exotically and cantankerously strange as Charles Dickens’s Magwitch, is the object of fascination, and an unlikely companion, for two overlooked children. In the final story, “Sick of Sunsets”, Clarke finally dares to let us experience something like hope – but not before he has put its narrator Gemma through any number of ugly travails.

Reviews

5 stars out of 5
M John Harrison
30 Apr 2020

"a novel full of insight, empathy and wry laughter"

This is a novel about belonging. The pressure to leave the valley, to find something – anything – somewhere else, is held in tension with the urge to return to its struggling hair salons and gloomy rains, its hillside ruins that resemble “the beginnings of a misspelled word”, where you face the inevitable penalties for your disloyalty. The hollow in the land is a zone of wrong decisions and deaths by misadventure. It’s only 10 miles long but it stretches to fit your life, binding the generations together even as it pulls them apart. You must take these characters as you find them. Without pulling punches or closing his eyes to anything, Clarke makes it possible to do that, in a novel full of insight, empathy and wry laughter.