Peculiar Ground

Peculiar Ground

Book - 2018
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In the 17th century, a wall is built around the deer park of a great house. Wychwood is a world in itself, its ornamental lakes and majestic avenues planned by Mr Norris, a master of the new art of landscaping. A world where, after decades of civil war, everyone has something to hide or something to fear, where dissidents hide in the forest and Londoners fleeing the plague are at the gate. Three centuries later, one hot weekend, there is a house party at Wychwood. Over the course of the weekend another wall goes up, dividing Berlin. Erotic entanglements blur with distant rumours of historic changes and a little girl, Nell, observes all. As Nell grows up and as the Berlin Wall falls, the world splits again. There are TV cameras in the dining room, golf-buggies in the park and a Great Storm brewing. A fatwa alerts Westerners to a new ideological faultline. A refugee from the new conflict, the one which is still tearing us apart, seeks safety in Wychwood.
Publisher: New York : Harper, 2018
ISBN: 9780062684196
Branch Call Number: FICTION HUGHS...L
Characteristics: 446 pages ; 24 cm


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Mar 02, 2018

I have not read this author before, so I entered without bias. The first section of the novel set in the 1600's is enchanting. It is where she sets a metaphor or recurrent symbol for the book. Soon she moves to the 1970's, and there she lost me a bit. Just when you feel you have to slog through to the end, she reverts back to the 1600's and the enchantment returns.

Unfortunately, it felt like she had this metaphor that had no real power, what it stood for she never really gave much weight to, on top of it she had another set of metaphors about walling in or walling out and the freedom that comes from no walls, neither their protection nor their barrier. But it got muddled and was meaningless. She even threw in a foreshadowing of the rise of Islam in our current time. I wish she had stuck with one of those, and not just kept heaping her thoughts into the mix.


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