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Summary

In the 17th century, a wall is built around the deer park of a great house. Wychwood is a world in itself, its ornamental lakes and majestic avenues planned by Mr Norris, a master of the new art of landscaping. A world where, after decades of civil war, everyone has something to hide or something to fear, where dissidents hide in the forest and Londoners fleeing the plague are at the gate.

Three centuries later, one hot weekend, there is a house party at Wychwood. Over the course of the weekend another wall goes up, dividing Berlin. Erotic entanglements blur, with distant rumours of historic changes, and a little girl, Nell, observes all.

As Nell grows up, and as the Berlin Wall falls, the world splits again. There are TV cameras in the dining room, golf buggies in the park and a Great Storm brewing. A fatwa alerts Westerners to a new ideological fault line. A refugee from the new conflict, the one which is still tearing us apart, seeks safety in Wychwood.

From the author of The Pike, winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Duff Cooper Prize and the Costa Biography Award, comes a feast of a book. Peculiar Ground is a breathtakingly ambitious, beautifully written novel about young love and the pathos of aging, about gamekeepers and aristos, agitators and witches, about fantasies of magic and the reality of the land, and about frontiers and fortresses and secret gardens.

Full list of narrators includes Lucy Hughes-Hallett, Anna Bentinck, and Maggie Ollerenshaw.

©2017 Lucy Hughes-Hallett (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

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One for listeners who like a challenge

If you could sum up Peculiar Ground in three words, what would they be?

challenging evocative overcomlex

What did you like best about this story?

The evocation of the early restoration peraiod from the perspectiveof a returning landowner, dispossessed under the previous commonweaklth regime and t5he sights, sounds and smells ofclothes,landscape, food, everything.

What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

The is distyinctyive character tiof the minor players in the narrative ,You get a better picture of the minor characters than yoou would by just reading it,, especially those of lower social status

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I nearly criedboth when LordWoldingham's son drowned and when Cecily revkeale dher plsguee symtoms to Norris through a window

Any additional comments?

I had two problems: the first was t he multiplicity of the characters in the twentieth century sections: they ir individual characters emerged too slowly and I couldn't see the point of some of the female chasracters.There were too many themes: the borders theme came over clearly but thereee alkso seemed to be sdome significance in the action of water, which I didn't quite grasp.Overall I preferred the 1660s s sections and I was tempted to skip .