Haweswater

Sarah Hall, Author
Sarah Hall, Author . Harper Perennial $13.95 (267p) ISBN 978-0-06-081725-1
Open Ebook - 978-0-571-26763-7
Hardcover - 288 pages - 978-0-571-31560-4
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Mardale, the remote British hamlet where Hall's remarkable debut novel is set, is a close-knit community of tenant farmers "where grand events and theatrical schemes rarely take place." So when a handsome stranger arrives in 1936, suspicions run high among the hardworking villagers. Jack Liggett is up-front about his plans for Mardale: he has come to inform the villagers that their homes would soon be at the bottom of a massive reservoir. According to Liggett, the dam associated with the project will be a "wonderful piece of architecture and engineering." But the villagers, who view the project as "so strange and vast that at first it was not taken seriously," resist, setting off a losing struggle between the insular community and the modern world. Caught in the middle is Janet Lightburn, the daughter of a local farmer, who begins a tempestuous and tragic romance with Jack. A Booker Prize finalist for her second novel, The Electric Michelangelo , (published in the U.S. in 2005), Hall is a talented writer, and though U.S. readers may have trouble with the phonetically rendered dialogue ("Twa Pund. Eh? Yan more ootstanding' "), the story, with its undertones of loss and grief, tugs at the heart. (Oct.)

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