A Month in the Country by J L Carr

About the book

A damaged survivor of the First World War, Tom Birkin finds refuge in the quiet village church of Oxgodby where he is to spend the summer uncovering a huge medieval wall-painting. Immersed in the peace and beauty of the countryside and the unchanging rhythms of village life he experiences a sense of renewal and belief in the future. Now an old man, Birkin looks back on the idyllic summer of 1920, remembering a vanished place of blissful calm, untouched by change, a precious moment he has carried with him through the disappointments of the years. Adapted into a 1987 film starring Colin Firth, Natasha Richardson and Kenneth Branagh, A Month in the Country traces the slow revival of the primeval rhythms of life so cruelly disorientated by the Great War.

Reviewed by K.Y.C. Ladies Reading Group:

Here we have descriptive writing in minute detail but with no wasted words, with each character decisively drawn and each situation deepening Birkin’s understanding of the community and himself. It is a story of interaction between Birkin, a man damaged by war, the long-dead ghost whose work is gradually revealed and the community, in which anything he has known and the warmth of the long days of summer which act as a catalyst to heal and send him and others whom he touched optimistically into the future.

Rating: ****

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10 thoughts on “A Month in the Country by J L Carr”

  1. Review by New Forest/Waterside U3A:
    A brilliantly conceived book masterfully handled. It evoked many memories for members of the group and for a wide variety of reasons. The characters were clearly defined yet with amazing economy (we have just read “Lake Wobegon Days” and the contrast is stunning.
    Rating: ***


  2. Review by Friends of Farnborough:
    We all thought this was a lovely book. It was well written and researched. We would all recommend it.
    Star rating: ****


  3. Review by Havant Arts Centre Reading Group:
    This is an enchanting book with a poetic turn of phrase. It is subtle and beautifully written.
    Star rating: ****


  4. Review by Ten for Books Reading Group:
    Everyone really loved this – despite not being ‘contemporary’, it was so relevant. The wonderful calm style of writing drew readers along, and it even had a bit of a plot and a love story! Fantastic!
    Star rating: ****


  5. Reviewby All Saints Reading Group:
    A beautifully written book with well-drawn characters. It has a great sense of time and place. It was written very succinctly yet covered many topics: religion, power of art, lasting damage to those caught up in WWI and the treatment of homosexuality at that time. Also great humour and romance.
    Star rating: ****


  6. Review by U3A Literature 1 Reading Group:
    We all loved the novella. A wonderful little cameo beautifully written and we felt we really knew the character.
    Star rating: ***


  7. Review by Jane and Nick’s Fleet Library Book Club:
    Generally considered a 1st Rate Read! Beautifully written, evoking an inviting atmosphere. Well-drawn characters. One reader (visually impaired, so listens) considered it better than “Cider With Rosie”.
    Star rating: ****


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