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Haweswater by Sarah Hall

Haweswater (2002)

by Sarah Hall

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    The Long Dry by Cynan Jones (charl08)
    charl08: Rural life without the rose-tinted glasses.

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Some of the things which annoyed me about this book: the never-ending, highly-romanticized descriptions of the landscape; a city man and spirited farmer's daughter starting a tempestuous affair after speaking to each other exactly twice; and the use of dashes instead of quotation marks for dialogue. ( )
  amanda4242 | Sep 17, 2017 |
I read this book after discovering Sara Hall's second novel -- The Electric Michaelangelo -- and loving it. In this, her first book, you can see Hall's gift for crafting language but her pyrotechnical skills are much more subdued than in the Electric Michaelangelo. Perhaps that is an intentional part of the story. She evokes the time, place and characters of her tale beautifully. It is set in a remote valley in northern England, in the 1930's. It is a quiet farming community, both literally and figuratively. People don't talk much and not much has changed here over the years. Then word comes that a dam is being built and the valley will be flooded. Everyone must move. And with that the action of the book begins. Haweswater is slower moving and more mysterious than The Electric Michaelangelo. It didn't grab me as quickly or as strongly as her second book, but I enjoyed it very much nonetheless and would recommend it. ( )
  Eye_Gee | May 8, 2017 |
A very accomplished and thorough novel, set in Mardale in the 1930s, around the building of the dam for Haweswater, to enable Manchester to have water. The main characters are the Lightburn family, a hill farming family living in Mardale, including Janet, with whose birth the novel begins and the Manchester Water Co over-seer of the project, sho seems the typical city man, hated by the locals for all that he stands for. Janet is a quick learner and has an independent spirit and she and the over-seer begin an intense affair while the work on the dam begins.
A very sad novel, with few spirits of humour, with the exception of some of the chat in the pub. The story is movingly told and is well constructed. The novel moves very slowly, often with a dream-like quality. ( )
  Tifi | Mar 7, 2013 |
Set in a quiet Cumbrian town in the 1930s--a town that is about to change drastically due to 'progress.' Hall does a lovely job of creating the slowness of life and the simple setting, awash with farms and sheep. But I gave up on the book about 150 pages in because nothing was happening. ( )
1 vote Cariola | Oct 2, 2010 |
Set in the mid-1930s, Haweswater is the story of a village tragically affected by construction of the Haweswater Reservoir. According to the Wikipedia article:
The controversial construction of the Haweswater dam started in 1929, after Parliament passed an Act giving the Manchester Corporation permission to build the reservoir to supply water for the urban conurbations of north-west England. At the time, there was public outcry about the decision, as the valley of Mardale was populated by the farming villages of Measand and Mardale Green and the construction of the reservoir would mean that these villages would be flooded and lost and the population would have to be moved.

Sarah Hall shows the searing emotional impact through the lives of the Lightburn family. Sam and Ella Lightburn breed sheep, and have lived in the valley all their lives. Their daughter Janet has just reached adulthood and played an active role in lambing and other farm labor all her life. Her much-younger brother , Isaac, is known for his love of the water and wildlife. Into their lives comes Jack Liggett, a representative of Manchester City Waterworks, who breaks the news of pending construction to the stunned villagers. Janet is a very strong woman and not about to sit idly by while her homeland is destroyed. But she hadn't bargained on the feelings that Jack would stir up within her. And he hadn't expected to become so immersed in the life of the village, nor in its beauty. Their romance unfolds even as villagers begin to move away, and crews of engineers begin construction on the dam.

Hall's prose is magnificent and filled with rich description. I felt immersed in the countryside:
In July and August the farmers in the valley sweltered under the dry sun as they worked, rolling and collecting hay, and transporting it in carts to barns and out-sheds, tying the bales down under tarpaulin for storage. Chaff and pollen-dust filled the warm air and floated around on the summer currents, and the smell of dry scorching grass was heavy and sweet in their nostrils. It was a good time of year. ... Around dawn the air was fresh and soft, the temperature rose during the day with the sun's ascension and passage between the fells. The men took off their shirts and their backs reddened, skin peeled and finally became tanned. Their forearms were burned a deep brown, masking the veins which had previously been seen easily, bluely, under their pale, northern-English skin. (p. 124)

And yet in the midst of such beauty, this is a classic literary tragedy, in the manner of Hamlet or other more famous works. The prologue makes it clear the villagers were powerless against Manchester City Waterworks. But the impact was more extensive, and deeper, than I had ever imagined. And Hall plays out the tragedy with drama and suspense. Each character plays a vital role as both a character and a symbol. I'm amazed this was a debut novel. Haweswater won the Commonwealth Writer's Prize Best First Book Award in 2003, and is most deserving of such an honor. ( )
15 vote lauralkeet | Mar 21, 2010 |
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I'm standing in a place where I once loved.
The rain is falling. The rain is my home.
I think words of longing: a landscape
out to the very edge of what's possible.
Yehuda Amichai
For my family
First words
The sound of water slipping through the wooden spoke of the cartwheels was like a slow, soft-washing hum.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060817259, Paperback)

The village of Marsdale is a quiet corner of the world, cradled in a remote dale in England's lovely Lake District. The rhythm of life in the deeply religious, sheltered community has not changed for centuries. But in 1936, when Waterworks representative Jack Ligget from industrial Manchester arrives with plans to build a new reservoir, he brings the much feared threat of impending change to this bucolic hamlet. And when he begins an intense and troubled affair with Janet Lightburn—a devout local woman of rare passion and strength of spirit—it can only lead to scandal, tragedy, and remarkable, desperate acts.

From Sarah Hall, the internationally acclaimed author of the Man Booker Prize finalist The Electric Michelangelo, comes a stunning and transcendent novel of love, obsession, and the passing of an age.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:01 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Love, obession, and the story of a community.

» see all 3 descriptions

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