Posted on 20th September 2011

Posted by Sophie

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Douglas Library Reading Group reads Disputed Land

As part of the Fiction Uncovered 2011 promotion, we worked with The Reading Agency to reach reading groups across the UK. As part of the promotion eight selected reading groups were given one of the selected Fiction Uncovered titles to read and we’re delighted that they’ve been able to feed back their thoughts.

We’ll be posting up a selection of the reviews over the coming months.

This is Mikki’s review of Tim Pears’ Disputed Land. Mikki is part of the Douglas Library Reading Group, Isle of Man.

“Slow-paced, nostalgic, well-crafted yet delicately and subtly written, the plot of the book is a reflection of growing up in the Welsh marches, the author’s own experience within that location, and a thoughtful study of family interaction and progression through the main character’s adolescent development. The plot, though seemingly simple, is multi-layered, and revolves around a Christmas family gathering where, to the surprise of the elder siblings, an invitation is made to select, by means of placing stickers, items within the house that they would like to inherit.

So it is that the plot begins to unfold and subsequent events are narrated, retrospectively, through the eyes of 13-year-old Theo Cannon. Invited into both past and present family events through his observations and recollections, we see his development through adolescence, his ever-increasing attraction to his cousin Holly, and his love for his grandfather. There is a darker side though, for we also see both family tension and unresolved family conflict, and all at a time when harmony and happiness should prevail.

The book, written in three parts, is a sad, poignant, and at times uncomfortable read, yet ultimately rewarding, as it sensitively addresses issues that bedevil so many families today. The storyline, as summed up by Theo, ultimately places the problem of family inheritance against a backdrop of more general sociological change. If family conflicts cannot be resolved, he wonders, then what hope is there for the world to come?”

Hear Tim Pears read from Disputed Land here.

Listen to judge Damian Barr talking about Tim Pears’ Disputed Land here.


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