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On the Red Hill Reviews

On the Red Hill by Mike Parker

On the Red Hill

Where Four Lives Fell Into Place

Mike Parker

4.14 out of 5

3 reviews

Imprint: William Heinemann Ltd
Publisher: Cornerstone
Publication date: 6 Jun 2019
ISBN: 9781785151934

Taking the four seasons, the four elements and these four lives as his structure, Mike Parker creates a lyrical but clear-eyed exploration of the natural world, the challenges of accepting one's place in it, and what it can mean to find home.

  • The BooksellerEditor's Choice
5 stars out of 5
Caroline Sanderson
8 Mar 2019

"This spellbinding, gorgeously written book is a portrait of two relationships through the ebb and flow of the seasons"

In the early 2000s, Parker and his partner moved to a remote village in West Wales and met Reg and George, a couple for over 60 years who settled there at a time when their relationship could have landed them in prison. The four men became firm friends, and when Reg and George died within a few weeks of one another, they willed their house, Rhiw Goch-the Red Hill-to Parker and his partner. This spellbinding, gorgeously written book is a portrait of two relationships through the ebb and flow of the seasons. It is also a valuable portrait of the queer rural experience.

Reviews

4 stars out of 5
Catherine Taylor
23 Jul 2019

"a lovely hybrid of memoir, panegyric and queer history"

The result, in prose as swooping as the birds that teem about the house, is an important study of everyday gay life before and after decriminalisation. It is also (for Parker is nothing if not ambitious) an intimate account of the stunning natural beauty of this part of Wales, and its proud history. Nearby, in 1404, Owain Glyndŵr, who led the revolt against Henry IV, was crowned Prince of Wales, the last Welshman to hold that title. The idea of self-determination, whether personal or national, runs through this book... It is through this unusual book, a lovely hybrid of memoir, panegyric and queer history, that Parker too, taking Reg, George and Rhiw Goch as his touchstones, seems at last to find his own noddfa – sanctuary – and with it a sense of belonging.

3 stars out of 5
Simon Callow
12 Jun 2019

"A moving, multilayered memoir"

Parker’s prose is lush and vivid; just occasionally the descriptive passages are so rich that one recoils. The sense of quotidian drama is a little excluding, like listening to someone on acid – and indeed, he is a little partial, he tells us, to the odd magic mushroom. At the culmination of the book, headed “Peredur”, we learn a great deal about his qualities, the man’s depth, his innate charm, his depth, his relationship to the land, his instinctive homebuilding. What we don’t really get is a description of him – his face, his body, his smell. So [Parker's] climactic chapter is ultimately somewhat impersonal.