‘Melissa Harrison’s All Among the Barley is an incredible evocation of one particular corner of rural England in the 1930s. Powerful and subtle and richly detailed, this is a book that inhabits its territory, knows its people, and follows its own haunting logic. Some of the great themes of English life are tackled here – class division, the patriarchy, folklore and psychosis, creeping fascism – but rather than being simply ticked off they are instead woven into the narrative with great subtlety and beauty. I’ve been following Melissa Harrison’s work with interest for some time now, and with this novel she’s done what I’ve long suspected she would: she’s written a masterpiece.’ – Jon McGregor, author of Reservoir 13
The autumn of 1933 is the most beautiful Edie Mather can remember. But in the fields and villages around her beloved Wych Farm the Great War still casts a shadow over a community impoverished by economic depression, and threatened by change. Change, too, is coming to Edie, who at fourteen must soon face the unsettling pressures of adulthood. Constance FitzAllen arrives from London to document fading rural traditions and beliefs, urging all who will listen to resist progress and return to the old ways – but some wonder whether there might be more to the glamorous older woman than meets the eye. As harvest approaches and the future of Wych Farm itself grows uncertain, Edie must somehow find a way to trust her instincts and save herself from disaster.
“A powerful evocation of rural lives, nationalism and nostalgia” – Alex Preston in The Observer
‘A work of rare magic’ – Helen Macdonald, author of H Is For Hawk
‘What a brilliant and timely novel All Among The Barley is. Deeply evocative of a historical moment – rural England between the wars, before mechanisation – it is also, unmistakably, about questions that press hard on us now, above all the dangers of nationalism, and how easily a love of place can be corrupted into something dark and exclusionary. This is an important book by a writer of great gifts’ – Robert Macfarlane, author of The Old Ways
‘In All Among the Barley, Melissa Harrison has created a central character to rival Cassandra in I Capture the Castle. A remarkable and haunting book’ – Evie Wyld, author of All The Birds, Singing
‘All Among the Barley is a beautiful, heartbreaking novel of great power. Melissa Harrison has built a world for us, and peopled it, making it solid and real, and all the time making one aware of an awesome fragility – of human minds and bodies, of farmers under politicians and under nature, of ideas that might transform lives or might destroy them. I’ve been privileged to inhabit this world’ – Tim Pears, author of The Horseman
‘Melissa Harrison is a dazzlingly gifted writer, and All Among the Barley confirms her as a novelist whose lyrical descriptions of nature and rural English life, harnessed to a gripping plot and varied cast of characters, deserves the widest readership. This is right up with the very best classic novels of inter-War country life – its beauties, sorrows, injustices and realities’ – Amanda Craig, author of The Lie of the Land