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Elmet by Fiona Mozley

Elmet (2017)

by Fiona Mozley

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3432545,789 (3.79)54
  1. 00
    My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent (hairball)
    hairball: Leave civilization behind, and varieties of disaster ensue. The fathers and reasons are different, but it always ends in flames.

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» See also 54 mentions

English (24)  Dutch (1)  All languages (25)
Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
This is about the last stand of an older system of living and of justice. In that sense, it is about Elmet. It is also about the first stand of someone who could not escape an inherited pattern, but was smart enough to see the pattern, and did the only possible thing to escape it. And it's about the homelessness of understanding not enough, knowing nobody safe, and grieving with no answers. Come for the starting over on wild land. Stay for the clutching and crushing grasp of the sins of the parent. Tired of characters overcoming improbable differences? Watch this stark shallowness of neighborly understanding turn friend against friend. You will never know all of what happened. There is a feral joy in accepting both the book's mysteries and its certainties. Feral joy being in short supply and poorly represented, you don't know yet, probably, how much having it will mean to you. Let this book claw you. Twist round and bite it. When you are both spent, the thrill of its power and your fight will make you stronger. ( )
  Nialle | Sep 7, 2018 |
I genuinely did not, based on the jacket blurb, expect to enjoy this book. What a fantastic surprise.

For me, this novel read like the first season of an amazing new HBO series - dark, with a sense of forboding because you know something bad is going to happen, but you just don't know quite when. A series of well-drawn characters makes you invest early and deeply in the outcome of the tale. And when the bomb explodes, you feel the shockwaves down to your very bones.

I did not want to put this one down. I am absolutely looking forward to this author's next work. Definitely recommended. ( )
  NeedMoreShelves | Aug 19, 2018 |
I'm not sure what to make of Elmet. It's an odd book, set in the rural English countryside, and told from the point of view of a boy growing up, who has an older sister and a father who is living off the grid. They've built a house in a quiet copse and are living close to nature, poaching a bit, trading for other things. Daniel's father is a large man who earned money for a time beating up men, some in illegal prize fights, others for wealthy men willing to pay. It's not long before their quiet life is threatened.

There's an overwhelming sense of peril shadowing this novel. Fiona Mozley does a brilliant job of both describing the natural world and of hinting at the danger to come. This isn't a book that obeys the usual patterns and if you need to have all your questions answered by the end of a novel, you may want to skip this one. But if you enjoy well-written novels that do things differently, you'll like Elmet. ( )
  RidgewayGirl | Aug 6, 2018 |
Page turner. But Slow start. Open end. ( )
  kakadoo202 | Jul 26, 2018 |
The action of Elmet (the title refers to an independent Brittonic kingdom of uncertain borders that various historical documents situate in the Yorkshire region from the 5th to the early 7th century), Fiona Mozley’s Booker Prize-shortlisted debut novel, takes place in modern England, but well out of range of modern society. Our narrator is Daniel, 13 years old. Daniel lives in a house in the Yorkshire woods that he, his sister Cathy, 15, and their father John (whom the children always refer to as Daddy) built with their own hands. It is by their father’s choice that the family lives a low-tech, self-sustaining life off the grid. John’s wife, the children’s mother, is not present: presumably alive, but elsewhere. The children do not attend school and freely roam the countryside, though they do spend time with a friend/neighbour named Vivien, whose lessons take the form of a wide-ranging, open-ended conversation. John is a taciturn giant—not simply muscular, but of outsized physical proportions and strength—who has scraped together a living with his fists, taking part in arranged boxing matches for money. John’s past is hinted at: years earlier he worked as a debt and rent collector and all-purpose thug for Mr. Price, the wealthy but unscrupulous landowner who owns most of the land in the district, including the plot where John and his children have built their house. However, John abruptly quit Price’s employ when he ran off with Daniel and Cathy’s mother, a slight that Price has neither forgotten nor forgiven. The novel’s central conflict sets John with his rigid moral code, environmental consciousness and primitive notions regarding squatter’s rights, against Price, a modern capitalist with the law on his side, whose sympathy for the land and the people who live on it does not extend beyond whatever profit he can squeeze out of them. The main action of the novel is interrupted on a half-dozen occasions by brief italicized sections, narrated by Daniel, that take place after a calamitous event has wrecked the life he was living with his family. Mozley’s narrative builds slowly and ever so patiently toward this event, though the reader will understand that the family’s idyllic existence is doomed the moment Price drives up to the house in his Land Rover for the first time. The situation develops over the several months that follow this encounter. John’s misguided efforts to weaken Price’s advantage, in the hope of avoiding a confrontation, prove futile. Meanwhile, we learn that John and Price share a history that goes beyond a simple employer-employee relationship and that any concessions that John makes were never going to be enough anyway. Mozley has written a tragic and haunting work of fiction, masterfully paced, imbued with a primal quality that derives from her skilful evocation of the dense and misty forests of the wild Yorkshire landscape, and the archaic speech patterns of the locals. ( )
  icolford | Jul 15, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
Fiona Mozley’s Man Booker-longlisted debut is an elemental, contemporary rural noir steeped in the literature and legend of the Yorkshire landscape and its medieval history...Elmet possesses a rich and unfussy lyricism....Elmet belongs to a strain of northern British gothic that mirrors the variety that has long held sway in the southern states of the US. The gothic has always returned to us what we repress, whether that be monks hiding in priest holes or bodies buried in swamps...The embedding of such myths in the language and landscape of Hughes, dragged down from the moorland and into the woods, makes for a scarred, black gem.
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Elmet was the last independent Celtic kingdom in England and originally stretched out over the Vale of York...But even into the 17th century this narrow cleft and its side-gunnels, under the glaciated moors, were still a 'badlands', a sanctuary for refugees from the law----Remains of Elmet--Ted Hughes
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"Cathy and Daniel live in the remote woods of Yorkshire with their gentle brute of a father, a former enforcer who now wants only to be left alone to raise his children. But when a powerful landowner shows up on their doorstep, a chain of violent events is set in motion"--… (more)

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