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J. L. Carr (1912–1994)

Author of A Month in the Country

31+ Works 3,060 Members 142 Reviews 14 Favorited
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About the Author

Disambiguation Notice:

Name given as "James Lloyd Carr" on title page of 'What Hetty did'; Quince Tree Press, 1988

Image credit: Photo: Heulwen Cox


Works by J. L. Carr

A Month in the Country (1980) 2,274 copies
The Harpole Report (1972) 142 copies
A Season in Sinji (1967) 75 copies
A Day in Summer (1964) 58 copies
A Month in the Country [1987 film] (1987) — Author — 27 copies
Thomas Bewick (1977) 4 copies

Associated Works

The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (1120) — Publisher, some editions — 5,161 copies


Common Knowledge

Canonical name
Carr, J. L.
Legal name
Carr, Joseph Lloyd
Other names
Carr, Jim
Date of death
Carlton Miniott, Yorkshire, England, UK
Place of death
Kettering, Northamptonshire, England, UK
Places of residence
Yorkshire, England, UK
Kettering, Northhamptonshire, England, UK
teacher training college
Castleford Secondary School
Carr, Robert D. (son)
Highfields Primary School, Kettering, Northamptonshire, England, UK
Quince Tree Press
Linda Shaughnessy (AP Watt)
Disambiguation notice
Name given as "James Lloyd Carr" on title page of 'What Hetty did'; Quince Tree Press, 1988



1. A Month in the Country by J.L. Carr in Backlisted Book Club (October 2022)


Faithful and honorable adaptation; delightful to watch those two golden boys Firth and Branagh finding their excellence.
JulieStielstra | Nov 11, 2023 |
Really beautiful novella. The main part of it is a nostalgic English pastoral exploration, a romantic vision of the countryside and rural living that probably never existed and yet is beautiful to read about anyway. And yet it's saved from being pure saccharine by the constant reminders that even from the perspective of the narrator, looking back on what he sees as the best days of his life, the exclusion and expulsion from that life, the ways people are separated from the normal flow of society and belonging, is always close at hand. He takes lodgings in the bell tower and his work is done on a scaffold that only another outsider is allowed on. The other outsider is working to find a grave of the local landed family's ancestor who was denied a true Christian burial. The vicar's family is frozen out by the community. The day trip of the Methodist chapel which blocks the Anglicans from going with. The impossible gap in understanding between the present day and the painter of the church mural. The gaps between the war, 1920, the present day of the 1970s. The divides keep stacking up, self inflicted or forced by failure to fit in with community standards Moon the archaeologist is gay, and the narrator being told this puts distance between the two. The 14th century ancestor had converted to Islam. The girl with consumption dies with no fanfare. The narrator can't stay in the village because he's actually married but can't tell them

So when he looks back you see, not that the pastoral ideal was false, exactly, and not even that there's "dark secrets" or something like that - it's that it's something that you can only experience as an ideal when you're there for a month. All the cracks can be glossed over but everything would fall apart if you stayed there too long. And when you look back maybe you can't think of why you didn't stay but that's what distance does - you can't experience the full thing in your memories or through a writing or art. But there's always something you carry with you.
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tombomp | 117 other reviews | Oct 31, 2023 |
This became one of my most remembered books, so sensitively told.
mykl-s | 117 other reviews | Aug 12, 2023 |
A Summer Idyll
Review of the NYRB Classics paperback edition (2000) with an Introduction by Michael Holroyd of the Harvester Press hardcover original (1980).

But one thing is sure - I had a feeling of immense content and if I thought at all, it was that I'd like this to go on and on, no-one going, no-one coming, autumn and winter always loitering around the corner, summer's ripeness lasting for ever, nothing disturbing the even tenor of my way (as I think someone may have said before me).

This is one of those rare books that evokes a perfect time and place and is especially wonderful in the way it provokes memories of idyllic summers in one's own past, even if they weren't in the same situation as the protagonist here.

Tom Birkin is a survivor of the First World War. He is recovering from the trauma of battles such as Passchendaele and has developed various nervous ticks as a result. His wife has left him and he is at loose ends. He takes on a summer job of restoring a medieval wall painting in a Yorkshire country church. Over the course of the summer (it is much more than a month, but a title of "Three Months in the Country" doesn't have the correct ring to it) he reawakens to life, makes friends and falls in love, while pondering the past lives of the people in the painting he uncovers.

Summertime! And summertime in my early twenties! And in love! No, better than that - secretly in love, coddling it up in myself. It's an odd feeling, coming rarely more than once in most of our lifetimes. In books, as often as not, they represent it as a sort of anguish but it wasn't so for me. Later perhaps, but not then.

See DVD cover at https://m.media-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BNGY0ZjE5NTAtNmYzZC00ZGMxLTg5OWEtMGM0MDEz...
The cover of the DVD/Blu-ray reissue of the film adaptation. Image sourced from IMDb.

Somehow I previously overlooked this book, but having discovered it now I was quick to add it to my all-time favourites.

See original book cover at https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/b/b0/A_Month_in_the_Country_96dpi.jpg
The dust cover of the original UK hardcover published by Harvester Press in 1980. Image sourced from Wikipedia.

Trivia and Links
A film adaptation of A Month in the Country was made as the same-titled film (1987) directed by Pat O’Connor and starring Colin Firth, Kenneth Branagh and Natasha Richardson. You can watch a trailer for the film here and, roughly 30 years later, Colin Firth is interviewed about the making of the film here.
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alanteder | 117 other reviews | Jul 27, 2023 |



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Associated Authors

Simon Gray Screenwriter
Kenneth MacMillan Cinematographer
Kenith Trodd Producer
John Hambley Producer
Michael Holroyd Introduction
Byron Rogers Foreword
Marijke Emeis Translator
Ian Blythe Introduction
Ronald Blythe Introduction
Penelope Fitzgerald Introduction
D. J. Taylor Introduction
Marijke Emeis Translator


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