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The Farm by Tom Rob Smith

The Farm (2014)

by Tom Rob Smith

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Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
This one sure did not end the way I expected it to. ( )
  cassie.peters1 | Feb 7, 2018 |
A friend lent this book to me as I had very much wanted to read it. It was very slow and I did skim through quite a lot. The last third of the book picked up a little. I liked the conclusion but it was a struggle for me to get there. ( )
  scot2 | Jan 7, 2018 |
A couple of years ago, Mr. Smith was interviewed on NPR where he described his family’s real life crisis which was the genesis for The Farm.

From the interview introduction: In the spring of 2009, British author Tom Rob Smith received a disturbing phone call from his father. “And he was crying,” Smith tells NPR’s David Greene. “He never cries. And he said to me, ‘You’ve got to come to Sweden. Your mom has suffered a psychotic episode, and she’s in an asylum.’ ” Then, Smith’s mother called. She had just been released from the psychiatric hospital in Sweden, and she said everything his father had told him was a lie.

The Farm is about a couple who, like Mr. Smith’s actual parents, retire to the idyllic Swedish countryside. As the novel unfolds, Tilde the mother, has just recently been released from a mental ward and she is carefully and methodically telling her story to her son Daniel. She reveals puzzling circumstances — how she, and his father Chris, moved to the farm, not to fulfill their dreams, but because they had gone bankrupt, losing all their investments in a real estate scheme. Tilde’s story gets darker and more irrational, the crimes she’s witnessed, the conspiracies around her, and how she has been deemed a madwoman.

Tilde’s story is filled with fear and paranoia– sprinkled with some Scandinavian evil (including some shiver-worthy Nordic troll fairy stories). Tilde is a true unreliable narrator –or is she? How much is true and how much is imagined? Why was she admitted for psychiatric observation, and was it justified?

“Paranoia might be a mental illness–or a means of survival.”

All these questions and more will whisper in the back of your head as you read The Farm. At first, I didn’t know what to make of the odd structure of this book, but it gradually caught me up in its web.

The plot does not unfold in real time and there are stories within stories, but Mr. Smith does not let this get confusing. It’s fast paced, suspenseful, and often smart.

“The people you think you have known all your life can be completely different, for different reasons that you have never known anything about.”

But I had some problems with The Farm. The first was Tilde’s voice. She is supposedly “telling” the story throughout the book, but Mr. Smith gives her sometimes unrealistic dialogue. No one speaks like this: “He was trying to soothe me as if I were a startled horse.” or “As he emerged from the gloom of his underground lair.” In the same vein, I just grew tired of the singularity of Tilde’s voice — it goes on for over 200 pages. Mr. Smith breaks it up with Daniel’s point of view, but not nearly enough to prevent the story line from occasionally becoming snooze-worthy.

I hoped that finding the truth to this story was going to be tricky and astonishing, but sadly, I found the ending abrupt and obtuse. But then again, maybe life isn't meant to be so neatly packaged.

The Farm is a suspenseful thriller, but with an unsettling ending - perhaps -- the author's intent.

A digital advanced readers copy was provided by Grand Central Publishing via Netgalley.
See all my reviews at http://www.bookbarmy.com ( )
  BookBarmy | Apr 13, 2017 |
This novel is much better written than "Child 44" from the same author. For one thing, the writing is smoother and also, the suspens is much more controlled, as the narrator (main one, the heroine's son) and reader, only find out about the full underlying story at the end. The plot contains a story within a story and contains 2 different points of views, depending on who is narrating. The characterization is very good. We like the characters not so much for the plot but for their respective flaws and faults. In the end, a lot of misunderstanding derive from these faults and we follow the main narrator in his investigation with focal distance, away from any direct involvement. From this, the resulting truth is shown with care and compassion, making this novel a far cry from "Child 44" in writing style and tone.

It was a good surprise and I think its writing style is better than "Child 44". It can be a bit creepy at times, it's a thriller after all, but it is all linked to the heroine's state of mind and paranoias. The only other narrative voice is her son's, with a much more controlled and composed tone, tenderness even, so that it all comes together in the end. Readers shouldn't dismiss this novel if they didn't like "Child 44", because it doesn't compare in writing style and tone. Well worth it! ( )
  soniaandree | Jan 23, 2017 |
What a joy to have found an actual page turner! A book that actually lives up to the expectations I had for it from initial reviews. Part mystery and part family drama, this intelligently written novel slowly reveals its true nature with every word written.
A son, an only child, is close to his Swedish mother and British father, but after their retirement back to his mother's native Sweden, he realizes that much of what they all perceived about one another was riddled with underlying secrets. ( )
  Iambookish | Dec 14, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
Meticulously weaving together literary themes of revenge and madness (it is easy to lose count how many woman submerge themselves in bodies of water at various points in the novel), this latest offering is a tapestry of fairytales old and new; so unsettling and oppressive that it blurs the distinctions between sanity and madness, reality and fantasy, leaving the reader guessing until the bitter end.
It would be easy to accuse Child 44 author Tom Rob Smith, whose latest novel is set between London and rural Sweden, of jumping on the bandwagon. The Farm lays out a pattern with which readers have become familiar. The picturesque but boring village ringed by isolated farms; a district dominated by a strong but taciturn patriarch; the disappearance of a vulnerable young woman, which is uncovered by an unreliable female investigator; the veneer of respectability that readers soon begin to suspect masks something rotten in the state of Scandi. But Smith, whose mother is Swedish, is playing a long game. The world he has created may initially appear full of enjoyably restful conventions, but any cliches in The Farm exist to wrongfoot us. This is a neatly plotted book full of stories within stories, which gradually unravel to confound our expectations.
added by geocroc | editThe Guardian, Louise Welsh (Feb 5, 2014)
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Until that phone call it had been an ordinary day.
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Daniel must weigh his mother's sanity -
delusion, deception, truth or lies?

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After learning his mother was committed to a mental hospital, Daniel receives a call from her, claiming that his lying father is part of a crime conspiracy.

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