Like in most of Jim Crace’s novels, the setting of Harvest is as vague as it is vivid. The unnamed Village may be located in a feudal England, but Harvest has a modern, post-apocalyptic feel to it. The novel explores the effects of the Enclosure Act, which turned open fields and common land into grazing areas – forcibly replacing subsistence agriculture with profitable wool production. Don’t let the historical fiction angle mislead you; Harvest tells a personal story, often funny but deeply sad, of being dispossessed and displaced.
The core of this strange, lovely novel is the narrator, Walter Thirsk, who, as both an insider and an outsider in the Village, embodies the displacement story he narrates. He arrived in the service of the manor house, but fell in love with and married a villager. A widower now, with twelve harvests behind him, Walter has ties to both the manor house and his fellow peasant farmers. Strangers begin to appear in the Village (a mapmaker, a landowner with legal claim to the estate, farmers already displaced by enclosure elsewhere), setting off a chain of increasingly violent events. As Walter struggles to understand and reconstruct these events, Harvest becomes a rich and complex meditation on community.
|Page Count||256 pages|
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