A postmodern Victorian novel about faith, knowledge and our inner needs.
The late 1870s, the Kentish village of Downe. The villagers gather in church one rainy Sunday. Only Thomas Davies stays away. The eccentric loner, father of two and a grief-stricken widower, works as a gardener for the notorious naturalist, Charles Darwin. He shuns religion. But now Thomas needs answers. What should he believe in? And why should he continue to live?
Why Peirene chose to publish this book: ‘This is Peirene’s most poetic book yet. A tale of God, grief and talking chickens. Like Dylan Thomas in Under Milk Wood, Carlson evokes the voices of an entire village, and, through them, the spirit of the age. This is no page-turner, but a story to be inhabited, to be savoured slowly.’ Meike Ziervogel
‘The translation is terrific and the author's grasp of England circa 1880 is utterly convincing.’ Sally Vickers, Observer
‘It's hard to believe this novel originated in another country. But it did, and the way Carlson shows us to ourselves should make us wonder.’ Nicholas Lezard, Guardian
‘Allow layers of meaning to emerge after you finish reading, and you may be rewarded.’ Harriet Paterson, Tablet
‘The collective consciousness in this novel is an amazing choir: Carlson makes the souls of Downe Parish sing.’ Helsingin Sanomat
‘Carlson writes beautifully, wisely and with effortless humour.’ Suomen Kuvalehti
LONGLISTED FOR THE INTERNATIONAL IMPAC DUBLIN LITERARY AWARD 2015
OBSERVER BEST HOLIDAY READS 2013