Găsiți următorul dvs. carte preferat

Deveniți un membru astăzi și citiți gratuit pentru 30 zile
Elmet

Elmet

Citiți previzualizarea

Elmet

evaluări:
4/5 (43 evaluări)
Lungime:
262 pages
4 hours
Lansat:
Dec 5, 2017
ISBN:
9781616208448
Format:
Carte

Descriere

FINALIST FOR THE 2017 MAN BOOKER PRIZE
**The Guardian Best Books of 2017 * December Indie Next Pick * Amazon Best of the Month * Amazon Debut Spotlight * PEOPLE Magazine BOOK OF THE WEEK**

“Beguiling . . . A lyrical and mythic work . . . Mozley’s sheer storytelling confidence sends the reader sailing.”

New York Times

"A quiet explosion of a book, exquisite and unforgettable." —The Economist


"Part fairy tale, part coming-of-age story, part revenge tragedy with literary connections, Mozley's first novel is a shape-shifting, lyrical, but dark parable of life off the grid in modern Britain. Mozley's instantaneous success . . . is a response to the stylish intensity of her work, which boldly winds multiple genres into a rich spinning top of a tale."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

The family thought the little house they had made themselves in Elmet, a corner of Yorkshire, was theirs, that their peaceful, self-sufficient life was safe. Cathy and Daniel roamed the woods freely, occasionally visiting a local woman for some schooling, living outside all conventions. Their father built things and hunted, working with his hands; sometimes he would disappear, forced to do secret, brutal work for money, but to them he was a gentle protector.

Narrated by Daniel after a catastrophic event has occurred, Elmet mesmerizes even as it becomes clear the family's solitary idyll will not last. When a local landowner shows up on their doorstep, their precarious existence is threatened, their innocence lost. Daddy and Cathy, both of them fierce, strong, and unyielding, set out to protect themselves and their neighbors, putting into motion a chain of events that can only end in violence.

As rich, wild, dark, and beautiful as its Yorkshire setting, Elmet is a gripping debut about life on the margins and the power—and limits—of family loyalty.
Lansat:
Dec 5, 2017
ISBN:
9781616208448
Format:
Carte

Despre autor

FIONA MOZLEY was born in Hackney but grew up in York and studied at Cambridge before moving to Buenos Aires for a year—without speaking any Spanish. After briefly working at a literary agency in London, she moved back to York to complete a PhD in Medieval Studies. She also has a weekend job at The Little Apple Bookshop in York. Elmet is her first novel and has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2017.    


Legat de Elmet

Cărți conex

Previzualizare carte

Elmet - Fiona Mozley

Hughes

I

I cast no shadow. Smoke rests behind me and daylight is stifled. I count railroad ties and the numbers rush. I count rivets and bolts. I walk north. My first two steps are slow, languid. I am unsure of the direction but in that initial choice I am pinned. I have passed through the turnstile and the gate is locked.

I still smell embers. The charred outline of a sinuous wreck. I hear those voices again: the men, and the girl. The rage. The fear. The resolve. Then those ruinous vibrations coursing through wood. And the lick of the flames. The hot, dry spit. The sister with blood on her skin and that land put to waste.

I keep to the railway tracks. I hear an engine far off in the distance and duck behind a hawthorn. There are no passengers; only freight. Steel wagons emblazoned with rogue emblems: the heraldry of youth long grown old. Rust and grit and decades of smog.

Rain comes then stops. The weeds are drenched. The soles of my shoes squeak against the grasses. If my muscles begin to ache I do not reckon with them. I run. I walk. I run some more. I drag my feet. I rest. I drink from alcoves into which the rainwater has pooled. I rise. I walk.

There is always doubt. If she turned south when she came to the railway there is no use. She will never be found. I can walk or I can jog or I can sprint or I can just stop in the middle of the tracks and lie down and wait for a train to cut through me; it would make no odds. If she turned south she is lost.

But I chose the way north so that is the way I will go.

I break all bonds. I step through the margins of fields. I scale barbed-wire fences and locked gates. I cut through industrial estates and private gardens. I pay no mind to the lines of counties and boroughs and parishes. I walk, whether paddock or pasture or park.

The tracks take me between hills. The trains glide below peaks with dales underneath. I spend an evening laid out on a moor, watching the wind, the crows, the distant vehicles; caught in memories of this same land, further south; earlier, another time; then likewise caught in memories of home, of family, of the shifts and turns in fortune, of beginnings and endings, of causes and consequences.

The next morning I continue on my way. The remains of Elmet lie beneath my feet.

Chapter One

We arrived in summer when the landscape was in full bloom and the days were long and hot and the light was soft. I roamed shirtless and sweated cleanly and enjoyed the hug of the thick air. In those months I picked up freckles on my bony shoulders and the sun set slowly and the evenings were pewter before they were black, before the mornings seeped through again. Rabbits gambolled in the fields and when we were lucky, when the wind was still and a veil settled on the hills, we saw a hare.

Farmers shot vermin and we trapped rabbits for food. But not the hare. Not my hare. A dam, she lived with her drove in a nest in the shadow of the tracks. She was hardened to the passing of the trains and when I saw her I saw her alone as if she had crept out of the nest unseen and unheard. It was a rare thing for creatures of her kind to leave their young in summer and run through the fields. She was searching. Searching for food or for a mate. She searched as if she were a hunting animal, as if she were a hare who had thought again and decided not to be prey but rather to run and to hunt, as if she were a hare who found herself chased one day by a fox and stopped suddenly and turned and chased back.

Whatever the reason, she was unlike any other. When she darted I could barely see her but when she stopped for a moment she was the stillest thing for miles around. Stiller than the oaks and pines. Stiller even than the rocks and pylons. Stiller than the railway tracks. It was as if she had grabbed hold of the earth and pinned it down with her at its centre, and even the quietest, most benign landmarks spun outrageously around, while all of it, the whole scene, was suckered in by her exaggerated, globular, amber eye.

And if the hare was made of myths then so too was the land at which she scratched. Now pocked with clutches of trees, once the whole county had been woodland and the ghosts of the ancient forest could be marked when the wind blew. The soil was alive with ruptured stories that cascaded and rotted then found form once more and pushed up through the undergrowth and back into our lives. Tales of green men peering from thickets with foliate faces and legs of gnarled timber. The calls of half-starved hounds rushing and panting as they snatched at charging quarry. Robyn Hode and his pack of scrawny vagrants, whistling and wrestling and feasting as freely as the birds whose plumes they stole. An ancient forest ran in a grand strip from north to south. Boars and bears and wolves. Does, harts, stags. Miles of underground fungi. Snowdrops, bluebells, primroses. The trees had long since given way to crops and pasture and roads and houses and railway tracks and little copses, like ours, were all that was left.

Daddy and Cathy and I lived in a small house that Daddy built with materials from the land here about. He chose for us a small ash copse two fields from the east coast main line, far enough not to be seen, close enough to know the trains well. We heard them often enough: the hum and ring of the passenger trains, the choke and gulp of the freight, passing by with their cargo tucked behind in painted metal tanks. They had timetables and intervals of their own, drawing growth rings around our house with each journey, ringing past us like prayer chimes. The long, indigo Adelantes and Pendolinos that streaked from London to Edinburgh. The smaller trains that bore more years, with rust on their rattling pantographs. Old carthorse-trains chugging up to the knacker, they moved too slowly for the younger tracks and slipped on the hot-rolled steel like old men on ice.

On the day we arrived an old squaddy drove up the hill in an articulated lorry filled with cracked and discarded stone from an abandoned builders’ yard. The squaddy let Daddy do most of the unloading while he sat on a freshly cut log and smoked cigarette after cigarette that Cathy rolled from her own tobacco and papers. He watched her closely as she spun them with her fingers and tipped tongue over teeth to lick the seal. He looked at her right thigh as she rested the tobacco pouch upon it and more than once leaned over to pick it up, brushing his hand against her as he did so, then pretending to read the text on the packet. He offered to light her cigarettes for her each time. He held out the flame eagerly and took offence, like a child, when she continued to light them herself. He could not see that she was scowling the whole time and frowning at her hands as she did his work. He was not a man who could look and see and understand faces well enough to tell. He was not one of those who know what eyes and lips mean or who can imagine that a pretty face might not be closed around pretty thoughts.

The squaddy talked all afternoon about the army and the fighting he had done in Iraq and in Bosnia and how he had seen boys as young as me slashed open with knives, their innards a passing blue. There was little darkness in him when he told us this. Daddy worked on the house during the day and in the evening the two grown men went down the hill to drink some of the cider the squaddy had brought in a plastic pop bottle. Daddy did not stay long. He did not like drinking much and he did not like company save for me and my sister.

When Daddy came back he told us that he had an argument with the squaddy. He had clouted the squaddy about the head with his left fist and now had a bloody nick in his skin just by the thumb knuckle.

I asked him what had started the argument.

He were a bastard, Daniel, Daddy said to me. He were a bastard.

Cathy and I thought that was fair enough.

Our house was laid out like any bungalow or park home on the outskirts of any smallish city where old people and poor families live. Daddy was no architect but he could follow a grey and white schematic rustled from the local council offices.

Our house was stronger than others of its type though. It was built with better bricks, better mortar, better stones and timber. I knew it would last many dozen seasons longer than those houses we saw on the roads into town. And it was more beautiful. The green mosses and ivies from the wood were more eager to grip at its sides, more ready to pull it back into the landscape. Every season the house looked older than it was and the longer it looked to have been there the longer we knew it would last. Like all real houses and all those that call them home.

As soon as the external walls were up I planted seeds and bulbs. The earth was still open from the foundations Daddy dug. I extended the troughs and filled them with compost and fresh manure we got from a stable eight miles down the way where little girls in fawn jodhpurs and shining leather boots rode ponies around a floodlit gymkhana. I planted pansies and daffodils and roses of all different colours and a cutting taken from a white-flowering climbing plant I found spewing out of an old drystone wall. It was the wrong time of year to plant but some shoots came up and more came the following year. Waiting is what a true house is about. Making it ours, making it settle, pinning it and us to the seasons, to the months and to the years.

We came there soon before my fourteenth birthday when Cathy had just turned fifteen. It was early summer, which gave Daddy the time to build. He knew we would be finished well before winter and there was enough of a structure to live in by the middle of September. Before then we made our home from two decommissioned army vans that Daddy had bought from a thief in Doncaster and driven to the site down back roads and tracks. We hooked them together with steel rope and tarpaulin was stretched over the top, expertly and securely, to give us shelter beneath. Daddy slept in one van and Cathy and I in the other. Under the tarpaulin there were weathered, plastic garden chairs and after some time a sunken blue sofa. We used that as our living room. We used upturned boxes to rest our mugs and plates above the ground and to rest our feet too, on warm summer evenings when there was nothing to do but sit and talk and sing.

On the clearest evenings we stayed out until morning. We clicked on the radios from both vans and Cathy and I danced on the leafy earth to our woodland stereo, safe in the knowledge any neighbour was too far to hear. Sometimes we sat and sang without the radios. Years ago, Daddy had bought me a wooden recorder and Cathy a violin. We had had free lessons when we were still at school. We were not experts but made a decent sound because of the instruments we played. Daddy had chosen well. He knew nothing of music but a great deal about fine objects. He could pick out craft and quality by the woods and the glues and the smell of the varnish and the smoothness of the edges. We had driven all the way to Leeds for them.

He knew about different woods, you see. He got to know the trees that lived in our copse early on and showed them to me. Almost all were between saplings and fifty years old as the copse had been coppiced well since long before we had moved there, for hundreds of years, even, Daddy thought. In the centre, right at the heart, there were older trees and one was the oldest of them all. The mother, Daddy said, from which all the others had come. She had been there for over two hundred years and her bark was set hard like scraped kauri gum.

There were hazel trees too and some of those dropped nuts. Daddy cut branches away from the trunks and showed me how to work the greenwood with a sharp folding knife. I spent days trying to fashion a thin flute from fresh greenwood, whittling the soft bark away from the sinew and gouging out the fleshy innards. I worked precisely to make the outside as smooth as I could, curved like a finger. But the flute did not sound and after that I moved towards making things that were useful, objects that required less skill, or rather, things that were able to exist even if they were not precisely so. As long as a bowl holds its charge it is easy to define even if it is ugly and rough. But if a flute does not make a musical note it cannot be called a flute.

Our home in the woods had a kitchen and a large oak table. When we still camped, Daddy cooked on a barbecue he had made from pieces of corrugated iron and charcoal that he had baked in two oil drums in the heart of the copse near the old mother tree.

We ate too much meat in those days. We followed Daddy’s diet so ate the food he had cooked for himself before we had come to live with him permanently. This was mainly the meat he hunted. He did not care for fruit or vegetables. He hunted wood pigeon, rock dove, collared dove, pheasant and woodcock, if he caught them in the evenings coming out of cover. There were muntjac deer around too and when there was too little to hunt or when he had cash in his pocket or when he just fancied a change he went into the village and bargained for joints of beef, lamb or pork sausages. In the right season there was smaller game for breakfast. A man in the village had a merlin and with it he caught too many skylarks to eat alone so gave them to us in exchange for birds that were too big for the merlin to steal. We ate the skylarks on toast, almost whole, with mugs of hot, milky tea.

Once Daddy went away with the travellers for four days and returned with a hessian sack of plucked ducks and five crates of live chickens. He constructed a coop for the chickens near where the back door of the house was going to be. We ate eggs after that but still hardly any vegetables or fruit except berries from the sides of the roads.

It was later, when the house was built, that I planted apple and plum trees and asked Daddy to bring sacks of carrots and parsnips from the village when he went down there for business. I prepared what he brought on the scrubbed kitchen table with knives my Daddy had sharpened.

Before the house was built, in those few hot, dry months when we camped and sang, Daddy talked to us properly. He used few words but we heard much more. He spoke of the men he had fought and the men he had killed, in the peat fields of Ireland or that black mud of Lincolnshire that clings to the hands and feet like forensic ink. Daddy boxed for money with bare knuckles far from gymnasiums or auditoriums but the money could be big and men whose cash came from nowhere arrived from across the country to lay their bets on him to win. Anyone was a fool not to back my Daddy. He could knock a man out with just one punch and if it lasted longer it was because he wanted a full fight.

The bouts were arranged by travellers or rough men from around who desired the chance to test themselves and earn a slice of cash. The travellers had fought in this way for centuries. Prize Fights or Fair Fights they called them. They wore no padded gloves nor did they divide the bouts into rounds with breaks. These men would not fight for the splitting peace-toll of the bell but until one surrendered or was bludgeoned cold. Sometimes the fights rested disputes between warring clans. As often as not they were for money. Tens of thousands of pounds could be settled and Daddy made a decent living from it.

There was a feud that had run for decades, Daddy told us, between the Joyces and the Quinn-McDonaghs. Every three years or so they would send their young men out against each other in one-on-one bare-knuckle matches that were moderated by older men from neutral families. In cases like these the families themselves could not be present in case a brawl broke out between one clan and the other, old and young, men and women, and a whole portion of the travelling community was wiped out or arrested by the police and packed into vans and taken off to jail.

There was much to gain. These feud fights were not divorced from high stakes. The Joyces and Quinn-McDonaghs competed on how much cash they were willing to front. Sometimes as much as £50,000 each and the winner would take it all back to their caravan and treat the whole clan to an evening of whisky. Daddy said they wanted the fights. He said that after all this time the quarrel between the families meant little but each time one of the top men was short of money they would like as not start something up in the hope of gaining. It was more than pride; it was prize money.

This is what it was about for Daddy too, of course. We were not travellers so the feuds meant nothing to us. He fought at bouts that were arranged for money, where travellers or gypsies, rough farmers, criminals from the towns, owners of underground nightclubs and bars, drug dealers and thugs, or just men who saw their worth resting in their fists, met together and brought their money in the hope of winning more. Daddy arrived in a pair of blue jeans and a buttoned-up bomber jacket. He was given the time and place over the phone by a fixer or else just picked up by the travellers or by someone else. He waited quietly among his admirers. Daddy rarely talked more than he could help. He allowed very few men to meet his eyes. He turned away and paced calmly by himself while the men made their bargains and agreed their rates.

Daddy started the fight. He peeled off his jacket and jumper and stood in a white vest, revealing not the lean, stratiform muscles of an athlete but the kind of biceps that could be soft tight pillows if they were not made from long chains of snap-rubber. There was little hair on his arms. Surprisingly little. Black hair reached up his back and stomach to his chest and the back of his neck and head to meet a full black beard and head of hair, but his arms were bare. He stepped towards the appointed ground and the other man fell into place. Daddy saw his oppon­ent for the first time. He was unmoved. He did not hate this man. He walked towards him and boxed him and when it was over he heard measured applause and was taken over to a blue Peugeot behind the crowds and given from its boot a zipped duffle bag full of dirty cash.

Those men must have been satisfied by something they saw there. The gambling obscured the real pleasure. The cash had to be present, of course, to make it safe. To make it about business. To underpin the spectacle with something serious. To justify the performance. But if it was money they wanted there were other ways to get it and if it was a matter of business the fight would not have been with bare hands.

Yes, it was during this summer in the woods, before the new house was built, that Daddy told us these stories, confided in us, and Cathy and I listened like we were receiving precious heirlooms. Daddy’s eyes became wide when he spoke to us, flecked, light blue, like worn denim, and he would lean in and open them generously then pinch them closed ever so slightly when he reached for a memory that was not quite clear. He sat forward in his chair with his long, thick legs apart, his elbows resting above his knees and his cavernous chest bearing broad, weighted

Ați ajuns la sfârșitul acestei previzualizări. Înscrieți-vă pentru a citi mai multe!
Pagina 1 din 1

Recenzii

Ce părere au oamenii despre Elmet

4.2
43 evaluări / 24 Recenzii
Ce părere aveți?
Evaluare: 0 din 5 stele

Recenziile cititorilor

  • (5/5)
    She told me that sometimes it was as if she was standing with two feet on the ground but at the same time running headlong into a roaring fire.
  • (3/5)
    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.
  • (4/5)
    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.
  • (3/5)
    Page turner. But Slow start. Open end.
  • (4/5)
    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.
  • (5/5)
    I'm giving Elmet 5 stars. It was a 2017 Man Booker short list nominee. It's very similar to History of Wolves -- both debut novels by a young female author, nature plays a big role (northern England in Elmet, northern MN in History of Wolves), coming of age story of teens living with parents off the grid, intense plot climax at the very end. Overall I liked Elmet more than History of Wolves, but both are worth reading. The characters, especially the adults, are more developed. It will be interesting to see what both authors write next.
  • (4/5)
    "Daddy was both more vicious and more kind than any leviathan of the ocean"By sally tarbox on 30 April 2018Format: Kindle EditionThe epigraph tells us that Elmet was the last independent Celtic kingdom in England...for centuries a 'badlands' and sanctuary from the law.This memorable novel is set in this part of Yorkshire; though it's a 21st century world, it feels ancient, timeless, brutal.Teenage narrator Danny and his older sister live with their father, a feral world of self-sufficiency. They don't fit into the community- Cathy's complaints of ill-treatment at school are dismissed: "they're nice boys". Daddy is a bare-knuckle fighter, huge, apparently a gentle giant to his children, yet with an inner requirement for brutality: "your Daddy needs it. The violence. I wouldn't say he enjoys it, even, but he needs it. It quenches him."In a world of travellers and corrupt landowners, events build to a horrific and unexpected crescendo...Poetic, with beautiful descriptions of the rural landscape, yet unsparing of the darker side of life, this was a worthy Booker prize nominee.
  • (5/5)
    Beautifully written.We are fortunate enough to have one of the Short Listed Booker Prize winners coming to our Lit Fest in March, so it seemed churlish not to read her book for our book group. I'll confess now, that I tend to run a mile from any Booker Prize novel and the nearer it is to the winner, the further I run. However, one of our members had read this and recommended it, so we gave it a go. It got a very varied response within our group so I was surprised to find myself really enjoying the way it was written, in spite of the fact that not a lot happened.The author has a wonderful way with words and her main characters are beautifully drawn. Daddy was a complete contradiction; to the villagers he was a huge hulk of a man with unbeaten fighting fists, to his children he was a gentle giant who built his hen coop adjoining the house so the fowl could share their heat. He decorated a tree in the forest with real candles for Christmas. When it burned down, Daddy insisted they move it one final time before burning it, in case any little creatures had made their homes below in its warmth.Daniel, or Danny, was the narrator, he was a quiet boy, thoughtful and studious. Cathy, Danny's older sister, took after her father, brawny and independent, her strength was deceptive. As Danny said "I had an inside sort of head, she had an outside sort of head."The children had lived with their father and grandmother, while their fay mother came and went, to no rules. More often than not she was absent and when she reappeared she often slept for days. After the grandmother died, Daddy brought them to a piece of unused land and they built their own house in the woods. This felt very much of the early last century, but it was actually much more recent times, so it's no great surprise that eventually someone came along and claimed the land. Their peaceful, isolated existence is shattered and events hurtle out of control.When we meet Daniel at the beginning of the book, he is wandering along a railway line searching for his sister.A review of Elmet would not be complete without at least a couple of the beautiful quotes:"The dawn erupted from a bud of mauve half-light and bloomed bloody as I woke." (Loc 2004)."I did not know about etiquette, nor about the correct and proper ways in which men and women should conduct themselves. Nor did I have any understanding that there were parts of the the body that held a different worth, a different kind of value or category." (Loc 1697).I'm so glad I read this, it was a real joy, and although it seems to get varied responses, I'd recommend it to anyone who loves a well written, character driven book, but doesn't require that every page is action packed.
  • (5/5)
    When the Man Booker Prize judges name an unknown debut novelist, it's advisable to take notice. And when the named novel makes the shortlist, you can know you've found a new author worth paying attention to.Fiona Mozley's Elmet is a finely-crafted moody story. The tale focuses on a father and his two children, Cathy and Daniel. The story is told from Daniel's perspective which is an excellent choice for a narrator. Daniel is unique and interesting; although he is central to the story, he exists largely as an observer. It's what happens to those closest to Daniel that truly propels the story.Mozley wonderfully draws the rugged Yorkshire setting. The language throughout this novel is beautiful and vivid, but keeps with the atmosphere of the rural setting. Whether the characters occupy the surrounding woods or their own living room, the descriptions are always organic, yet crushing (like the forest).[Daddy] led Cathy and me by our hands through the narrow corridors of our school. The ceilings were low and lit by halogen strip bulbs that flickered and shone the same colour as the magnolia pain on the walls, making it appear as if the light were emanating from the plaster. The only windows were long and thing and tucked just beneath the ceiling, well above the heads of the children who walked up and down these corridors so that when they looked up and out into the world beyond all they could see was the sky. On that day the sky was a mesh of criss-crossed grey and white cords being ripped and tugged and frayed by colliding winds.Elmet may feel a bit light in the middle as the bulk of the story rests on the opening chapters and the ever-expected conclusion. Once the story comes full circle, one can see the necessity for the slow build in the middle. This is a story that doesn't rely heavily on being overly ornate or on the use of tricks. It hits hard at times, but not at the risk of losing its heart or voice.Fans of Winter's Bone and His Bloody Project may appreciate the dark atmosphere of Elmet. The author gifts the reader with a bit more sensitivity than you might find in other similar tales, but that should not be a deterrent to any reader searching for a contemporary tragedy. This is a dark tale, but one that doesn't lose sight of its themes, love, honor, and devotion.
  • (4/5)
    If a great read is marked by the reader's desire to return to it and by the sense that one is immersed in the story even when one is doing other things, [Elmet] is a great novel. It's not a perfect novel and, especially at the end, I was left wondering about Mozley's motivation, but the characters are bold and brash, the story (implausible though it is, but that rarely bothers me) compelling and knife-sharp, the language often stirring. Mozley's ability to describe is evident, such as in this otherwise mundane passage:She rolled a cigarette for me too and lit it with a match from her top jacket pocket before turning the match to the end of the roll-up she was holding between her lips. I inhaled as deeply as was comfortable and blew my smoke in the direction of my sister and up into the night air." and this one: "The soft, wet moss on the woodland floor and the sallow bark of the ash smelt more familiar this morning than ever before. Birds in the branches and the small mammals in the undergrowth kept the silence with us, though I saw shining eyes and flickering indigo feathers through apertures in the leaves."The story is an odd one: teenagers Daniel and Cathy live with their father, whom they call Daddy, in a hand-built cabin in a copse in Elmet, the "badlands" of York described by Ted Hughes in [Remains of Elmet] (and quoted on the frontispiece of this novel). Set in modern times, it has the feel of a medieval drama and that is clearly intentional. Such are the author's themes: the timelessness of the earth and family, but also of avarice and the wretched violence it breeds. Blending tribute to the natural world with a vividly visceral story, the novel kept me enthralled. Still, it's not a perfect work, either. Young Daniel's relationship with Vivien, an older woman who introduces him to the pleasures of reading, art, and the soft life they offer, never quite rings true and, in at least one place, it simply offers distraction. Daniel is certainly a young man coming of age and his vague discovery of his own sexuality is a reasonable sub-plot but Mozley doesn't carry it off effectively. For that, she loses a whole star rating but definitely not my overall appreciation of a notable debut novel.
  • (4/5)
    The land itself seems as medieval as the feuds which continue through the ages and is "Now pocked with clutches of trees, once the whole county had been woodland and the ghosts of the ancient forest could be marked when the wind blew. The soil was alive with ruptured stories that cascaded and rotted then found form once more and pushed up through the undergrowth....". One of these ruptured stories involve siblings, Daniel and Cathy who live with their father on land once owned by their deceased mother. It is told from the perspective of Daniel who appears to be on the run and searching for his sister. As the story unfolds, the reader learns that Cathy is a strong young lady who will fight to protect those she loves and her father, though a gentle man and loving father, will fight when it is necessary. Through the years, enemy lines are drawn and alliances formed. Will peace last or will old and semi-unclear feuds be recalled? What is clear is that the self sufficient lifestyle this family of three once lived in the wilderness will change. This novel is the perfect example of why I try not to give up on a book. Approximately 3/4's of Elmet is rather sluggish and fraught with the daily details of living like survivalists in a modern world. However, it lays the ground work for the explosive finish which is frightening and powerful!
  • (3/5)
    I loved the story until the end. It was not what I hoped for. It made me think of one of the stories they made us read in school, except now I can appreciate those and I’m not sure about this one.
  • (4/5)
    Daniel and Cathy live in a home that their father, John, built with his own hands. He is a huge man and an acclaimed bare-knuckle boxer but as a parent caring for his children, he is a gentle giant. They were never like the other children, and have an alternative upbringing, dropped out of school, spend their days foraging and hunting for food and share their fathers roll-ups and cider. He has told them that this is their home forever, but he has no truck with details like who actually owns the land.

    Soon the ghosts from his past lives begin to haunt him once again, the local landlord and hood Price needs John to fight again, large amounts of money are stake and Price has leverage over John. The children notice a difference in their father, gone is the calm; now they see rage flame in his eyes. John decides to accept Prices request to fight, negotiating a deal to secure their future properly and so begins his training…

    I normally don’t read Booker Prize books as I have not always got along with them in the past but this was on my list to read as I was fortunate to win a signed copy. It is a dark tale of the underground culture of a northern village, with the characters deeply rooted in the very landscape they inhabit. I thought it did take a little while to get going, as Mozley takes time setting the scene and builds the atmosphere, however, the last quarter of the book flew by. The prose is sparse yet visceral and charged. Her portrayal of the characters, whose flaws give the plot the friction it needs, make this tale of a family who have stepped away from contemporary society, unnerving and disturbing.
  • (5/5)
    Beautifully written and poignant novel well worth reading in any country.
  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    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.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (4/5)
    This is a story set in Elmet which is a part of England with a bit of history of lawlessness. It is a Robin Hood type a place, a place where you can live off the grid. Daddy and his daughter Cathy and son Daniel live there in a house that they built and they live off the land. They make due. The kids are not going to school, they drink, smoke and live a life that is very much out of the ordinary. It’s a dark story, told by the boy who is young but often it feels that he might be telling this story as if he is looking back and seeing it as an older person. There is no law here in Elmet unless it is what you take it into your own hands. Cathy learns that no one is going to listen to her when she reports bad behavior and so she knows it is up to her to take care of things. I’ve read some reviews and agree with those points that the narrator seems older than his years. That there was inconsistencies but I didn’t particularly notice them. I ended up liking this debut story inspire of the problems with the characters and the inconsistencies. I felt the ending fit the story.
  • (5/5)
    Patient story telling beautifully written.
  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    This book was the only genuine surprise on this year's Booker longlist, a first novel by a young British writer. I would be very happy to see this book make the shortlist - there may be at least six better books on the longlist but none of them would benefit as much from the exposure, and this is a promising debut by a talented writer.This was the most unexpectedly welcome inclusion on the shortlist. Very disappointed to lose Reservoir 13, Home Fire and Solar Bones Mozley is studying medieval history, and her starting point is the story of Elmet, the last Celtic kingdom in England and later, to quote the epigraph by Ted Hughes "a 'badlands', a sanctuary for refugees of the law". Robin Hood is clearly another inspiration, as is the Yorkshire landscape and its recent political history.The story is narrated by Daniel, a rather effeminate teenage boy. The two other main characters are his "Daddy" John, a giant prize fighter who has a legendary reputation in the criminal netherworld of bareknuckle fighting, and his sister Cathy, a feisty tomboy who has inherited much more of her father's qualities. When their grandmother and guardian dies, and Cathy gets blamed for starting a fight with bullies at her school, John takes them to squat in a copse, builds a wooden house for them and survives by hunting and by lending his muscle to the locals in return for favours. John is fiercely independent, with integrity based more on natural justice than the law.John takes the children to be "educated" by Vivien, who lives in a neighbouring house and has a large and eclectic collection of books. I think this was necessary to explain the language the book is written in, which is a mixture of lyrical well written prose and reported speech in Yorkshire dialect.It soon becomes clear that they will not be left alone. The Robin Hood element of the story starts with the appearance of Price, who owns the land and many of the houses in the area. Price is something of a pantomime villain, but the issues he embodies are real enough - economic exploitation of poor tenants in an area that never fully recovered from losing its mining industry. John gets involved in fighting for the villagers, helping them to form a united front and leading a rent strike, and lending his muscle whenever bailiffs appear. This inevitably leads to a violent confrontation, which does become a little too melodramatic for my taste.Not by any means a perfect book, but it is a memorable one and I would be interested in reading whatever Mozley writes next.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    Elmet, a place of sanctuary, and for Cathy, Danny and their father, for a short while it was. They built on land their mother had once owned, but did no longer, near a copse and woods. They hunted,fished and used whatever the land provided. They didn't have much but they were happy, basically content. The descriptions of this natural setting are glorious, beautifully done,the changing seasons,"Spring that came with a rush of color, a blanket of light, u filling insects and absent, missed prodigal birds on this prevailing sou'westerly."Their father was a large man, an unbeatable fighter, and when money was needed this is what he did, he used to use this skill to collect rents for Me. Price, but no longer. The land now belonged to Mr.Price and he only wanted to take and squeeze the most out of those who worked for him. The haves and the havenots, once again in battle, an unending cycle. He wanted, Danny's father to collect for him, and if he refused he would be thrown off his land. "Coxswain was one of Prices friends. It was Price's landline all the land around here and Coxswain held it, ran the farm, worked the labourers hard for a tener a day and dobbed them in to the Dole office if they complained."So a lovely place, an temporary idyll is turned into a place of violence, and the before and after is jarring. Beauty next to horror. Narrated by young Danny the story becomes even more poignant, a story of a particular time and place, a story that is told in beautiful language of a time that will not come again for this young family. From the calm beginning the tension is increased by increments ,by events, until it becomes clear that their will be a day off reckoning and a young boy will be left to wonder. Yet, how this comes about is surprising, and unexpected. What an amazing talent this author is,her first book and it makes the Booker's short list. I can definitely see why.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (4/5)
    Elmet by Fiona Mozley is a 2017 Algonquin Books publication. This debut novel, shortlisted for the coveted Booker Prize, is an absorbing, intense novel of suspense, which draws from the mini-trend of highlighting the lives of those living ‘off grid’, hand to mouth, living off the land, shunning the traditional life embraced by most people.Cathy and Daniel live with their father, a prize fighter, in the rural woods of Yorkshire. Cathy is practical, smart, and insightful- Daniel is a sensitive child who enjoys domestic chores, and art over the harsh realities of his world. He loves his father, accepts his occasional moodiness, and depends on his sister emotionally.But, as the story opens, the reader knows that something has happened to upset the family dynamic, something that has separated them. As the story progresses, we know that whatever happened, it was catastrophic because this family is close, loyal, and definitely a firm unit, despite their unconventional lifestyle. This story surprised me. I was mainly curious about it because of its award nominations and because it was a debut novel on top of that, and because the description of it remined me of several books I read last year that featured alpha male fathers keeping their children out of school, teaching them to survive in the wilderness, and how to hunt and live off the land, but in those books the sinister quality comes from within the family unit, but in this case, the alpha father is making the decision to live away from society to protect his children. So, knowing the threat is an outward one, and it won’t take long to figure out where the danger lies, which will give anyone a queasy feeling of unease. I was constantly preparing myself for that crescendo, but I never anticipated the hairpin curve the story would take. The prose is stunning with strong gothic tones which had me constantly reminding myself I was not reading a historical novel and wondering how the author captured that atmosphere inside a setting I wouldn’t have associated with it. There are many themes explored with such a stinging reality, stated harshly and emphatically and unapologetically. Gender roles, class distinctions, and the struggle against poverty is brutally forced onto the pages while the vividly drawn characters spiral towards their unstoppable destinies. Award nominees and winners often leave me feeling bewildered. I don’t understand, sometimes, what caused a book to stand out within the staid world of literary critics. I end up scratching my head, wondering why the book left me feeling so underwhelmed. But, in this case, the author and her writing made quite an impression on me, and for once, I understood why the book garnered such lavish praise. Again, this is a book that may not appeal to a broad audience. It is not necessarily the most upbeat novel, but while there is a form of retribution, you don’t want to show up expecting everything all tied up in a nice neat little bow or expecting a warm and fuzzy happily ever after. Despite that, this journey is one I am glad I took. I’d go so far as to say it as powerful as it is unsettling and stayed with me long after I turned the final page. I will certainly keep an eye on this amazing writer!! 4 stars
  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    A dark fairy tale set in a just-barely contemporary England, thick with beautiful woodsy descriptions and a hovering anticipation of violence. Mozley just about out–Angela Carters Angela Carter, but there's also some Faulkner-level southern gothic at work (without the actual south). I liked it overall, though the Yorkshire dialect set my teeth on edge sometimes. But I'm always a sucker for a green-wood fable, and this put an interesting and unique spin on it, so I approve.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (4/5)
    15-year-old Cathy and 13-year-old Daniel have been living with their grandmother but when she dies, their father moves them to a land to which their family has some ties and builds a home for them there. Their father, John, is a huge, strong man who sometimes will enter into a prize fight to earn some money. He once worked as an enforcer for Mr. Price, the evil landlord of the story. While there’s a violent side to John, there also is a very gentle one. Their secluded life is fractured when Price starts questioning their right to remain on this land.I’m feeling very conflicted about how I feel about this book. So many parts of it are 5 stars for me. And yet I’m left with too much confusion. I usually don’t mind a book that doesn’t tie up all the loose ends. But this one just leaves me with far too many questions. It’s almost skeletal in nature, the bare bones of the story. And yet I couldn’t tear myself away, compulsively wanting to know more. I think I would like to re-read this book in time but read it with the knowledge that it’s partly a surreal fairy tale. I think my first reading had too much of a realistic outlook and that’s why I was left hung up on many of the details.It’s gorgeously written, intensely suspenseful and very moving.Shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker Prize.Recommended.This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.
  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    Often idyllic setting turns ultraviolent by the endAs a quick look at Wikipedia reveals: "Elmet was an area of what later became the West Riding of Yorkshire, and an independent Brittonic kingdom between about the 5th century and early 7th century.""Elmet" the novel hearkens back to a time of feudal landowners lording it over serfs although its setting is present day northern England. The family of ex-prize fighter John and his teenage children, the older & tougher Claire and the softer youngster Danny are squatting on land owned by local headman Mr. Price. We gradually learn the history of the family tie-ins and of the land during the course of the book which is narrated by the son.John becomes somewhat of a symbol for the local working class and organizes a rent strike for improved wages and house repairs. There is very little indication of civil authority (bailiffs are mentioned only at one point) and the sense is one of the rule of might and force rather than of legality. Price's resentment of John's independence eventually takes a turn into a shockingly violent conclusion.I very much enjoyed "Elmet"'s often idyllic settings with its air of medieval outlawry. It felt very much like a modern day Robin Hood vs. Sheriff of Nottingham update, although giant ex-fighter John is more suited in the "Little John" role.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (4/5)
    Well, it didn't quite win the Booker Prize in the end. It started well but as it progressed I began to tire of big, strong Daddy and couldn't quite believe that Cathy was a murderer.