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The Horseman Reviews

The Horseman by Tim Pears

The Horseman

The West Country Trilogy

Tim Pears

Score pending

2 reviews

Imprint: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publication date: 13 Jul 2017
ISBN: 9781408876848

From the prize-winning author of In the Place of Fallen Leaves comes a beautiful, hypnotic pastoral novel reminiscent of Thomas Hardy, about an unexpected friendship between two children, set in Devon in 1911 1911. In a forgotten valley on the Devon-Somerset border, the seasons unfold, marked only by the rituals of the farming calendar. Twelve-year-old Leopold Sercombe skips school to help his father, a carter. Skinny and pale, Leo dreams of a job on the estate's stud farm. He is breaking a colt for his father when a boy dressed in a Homburg, breeches and riding boots appears

5 stars out of 5
Declan Burke
18 Feb 2017

"an exhilarating vision"

While the bare bones of the plot are evocative of Hardy, The Horseman is a novel in which plot is little more than a skeletal structure that allows Tim Pears to flesh out a vibrant, vividly detailed Devon. Leo, our guide, has a gift for observation, and is a rudimentary philosopher to boot. Thus, when he watches a hare approach him across a field, Leo is drawn to the conclusion that, “each species of animal had its own peculiarities of vision. This world we surveyed was not as it was but as it was seen, in many different guises.”... Seeded with deliciously archaic fragments of language (“dawcoc”, “zart”, “guddled”, “gatfer”), The Horseman is itself an exhilarating vision, a bittersweet elegy for the innocent certainties of an agrarian world before the industrialised horrors of the 20th century come crashing down.


4 stars out of 5
7 Jan 2017

"Pears specialises in going his own way and doing the unexpected, so I am ready for volume two"

Tim Pears’ new novel, the first in a trilogy, is a slow read. Not because it lacks suspense, but because the pleasure of it lies in taking in the language and the setting – the West Country, in 1911 and 1912 – and in reading it like a long poem, with each chapter a stanza... As a protagonist, Leo is worth observing, but he is not especially sympathetic. Miss Charlotte is just about the only other character he interacts with. Pears’ habit of setting Leo so firmly in his environment has a downside as well as an upside – it’s easy to lose sight of him, which turns The Horseman into more of a tableau vivant than a narrative. And it is not as though the early 20th century hasn’t been thoroughly mined by English writers already. But Pears specialises in going his own way and doing the unexpected, so I am ready for volume two.