That time of year has come around again and the Booker Prize Shortlist has been announced. This is the first year that Americans have been included in the prize but this writer is British. The book is set in deepest, darkest rural England, some time before the industrial revolution.
The story unfolds over the course of about a week. The villagers are harvesting their crops when three strangers appear in town. The locals are suspicious that they may have started a fire in the village so they are punished. One thing leads to another and things go from bad to worse. Violence occurs, some are accused of witchcraft, some have to leave the village, and, horror of horrors; the master of the land announces that the common land will be used for sheep grazing.
Crace wheels out the usual issues that would have affected a rural village at this time, but it is all very well narrated by the world’s most verbose farmer. It is excellent prose but unfortunately not much of a plot.