The Hollow Land


The barren, beautiful Cumbrian fells provide the bewitching setting for the adventures of Bell and Harry, two children who find enchanting wonder at every turn, as they explore THE HOLLOW LAND. Everyday challenges give a daring edge to this rural work and play. There are ancient mysteries to explore and uncover, like the case of the Egg Witch, and everyone is curious about the Household Name, a wildly famous Londoner moving in to the jewel of the territory, Light Trees Farm. With painterly ease, Jane Gardam’s ...

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The Hollow Land

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The barren, beautiful Cumbrian fells provide the bewitching setting for the adventures of Bell and Harry, two children who find enchanting wonder at every turn, as they explore THE HOLLOW LAND. Everyday challenges give a daring edge to this rural work and play. There are ancient mysteries to explore and uncover, like the case of the Egg Witch, and everyone is curious about the Household Name, a wildly famous Londoner moving in to the jewel of the territory, Light Trees Farm. With painterly ease, Jane Gardam’s stories fly with a marvelous spirit that will delight readers of all ages!

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Meg Wolitzer
Reading these superb stories…I had the sense that Gardam, a sensitive writer regardless of subject matter or genre, may not draw much of a distinction between "children's" and "adult" books either, at least when she's writing. Her territory isn't young or old; it's the heart- and brain-matter of people, their desires and worries and fantasies and intricate interactions…The Hollow Land…includes perceptive observations about human nature and is descriptively accurate…The beauty and evocation of place are reminiscent of Willa Cather's My Ántonia, which is read by both children and adults…The Hollow Land is a beautiful little book about how people live, in families and in communities and in one particular patch of world.
Publishers Weekly
Fans of Gardam’s Old Filth trilogy will be pleased to discover this book of linked stories, first published in 1981. The collection follows the friendship of Harry Bateman and Bell Teasdale and their mischievous adventures in the Cumbrian countryside—or what Bell’s grandfather calls “the hollow land.” Harry, the son of a writer, is a Londoner who spends summers in a farmhouse that belongs to Bell’s family. The duo gets trapped in an abandoned silver mine, nearly freeze to death chasing icicles in a blinding snowstorm, and encounter characters such as Granny Crank, aka the Egg Witch and, later, a long-absent uncle who returns to claim the house Harry rents. Gardam has created an engaging rural landscape with its own dialect, ghosts, and legends. “The evening,” she writes, “gentle with warmth of the long day, smelled of gorse and wild thyme and a hundred miles of clean turf.” Yet it is not so much the sense of place but rather the shared experiences of one country boy and one city chap that connect the stories. Like Mark Twain’s depictions of youth, Gardam demonstrates that the enduring lessons of boyhood and lifelong friendship can delight readers of any age. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
“Jane Gardam has a spectacular gift for detail of the local and period kind, and for details which made characters so subtly unpredictable that they ring true.” – Times Literary Supplement
“Gardam’s prose is so economical that no moment she describes is either gratuitous or wasted.” –The New Yorker
“Gardam is an exquisite storyteller, picking up threads, laying them down, returning to them and giving them new meaning.” –The Seattle Times
“Gardam will bring immense pleasure to readers who treasure fiction that is intelligent, witty, sophisticated.” –The Washington Post
Library Journal
Originally published in 1981 in the UK and winner of the Whitbread Children's Book Award, this is a charming story for all ages about a community in Cumbria in England where the oil crisis has forced the people to practice premechanical farming methods. A London family named the Batemans rents a farm for the summer holidays and returns year after year. Son Harry becomes fast friends with Bell Teasdale, a local farmer's son, and together they get into mischief on a regular basis. As the years pass, the Batemans become an accepted part of the community. Only when an outsider threatens to ruin their way of life do the families truly understand how close they have become. VERDICT The only author to have won two Whitbread prizes (her second was 1991's The Queen of the Tambourine), Gardam brings the Cumbrian countryside and its people alive, weaving in superstition, magic, ghosts and cosmic events while telling her story. Highly recommended for all readers of fiction.—Joanna Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island Libs., Providence
Kirkus Reviews
Two boys from different social classes become friends for life; their families follow suit.These linked stories from 1981 join last year's reissue of A Long Way From Verona; both predate by many years the English author's acclaimed Old Filth trilogy. Up in Westmorland, in England's far north, farmers have worked the land for hundreds of years. By the 1970s they have started summer rentals for "incomers." So the Batemans from London rent from the Teesdales. Things start badly. Mr. Bateman is a journalist who needs peace and quiet; the racket of harvest time almost drives him back to London. The mothers save the day, with behind-the-scenes help from their sons: Bell Teesdale, who's 8, and Harry Bateman, a good bit younger. The kids hit it off from the get-go. Harry becomes so fluent in the local dialect that Bell teasingly reproves him, "Speak right, can't yer. You'll finish up a savage." He mentors little Harry, showing him a secret opening to an abandoned silver mine, where a rock fall traps them. The lads get trapped again in a huge snowstorm, and when Harry begs Bell to save them, the older boy, in an echo of A.A. Milne, "felt very young indeed." Familiar childhood escapades, yes, but Gardam makes them glow by seeing them through a child's eyes, as she did in Verona. She gives weight to the tall tales and ghost stories of the region but is not above tweaking them mischievously. Only in the last story ("Tomorrow's Arrangements") does she fumble. A distant relative, a smooth operator, arrives from Brazil to lay claim to the farmhouse the Batemans still rent in 1999; it's an improbable, large-scale development in a work whose success is tied to the small-scale. Winner of the Whitbread Award when it was first published, this is a buoyant collection that's not just for Gardam completists.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781609452469
  • Publisher: Europa
  • Publication date: 1/6/2015
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 89,041
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Jane Gardam

Jane Gardam is the only writer to have been twice awarded the Whitbread Prize for Best Novel of the Year. She is winner of the David Higham Prize and the Royal Society for Literature’s Winifred Holtby Prize, the Katherine Mansfield Prize, and the Silver Pen Award from PEN. Her novels include: God on the Rocks, shortlisted for the Booker Prize; A Long Way From Verona; Crusoe’s Daughter; and the Old Filth trilogy: Old Filth, finalist for the Orange Prize; The Man in the Wooden Hat, finalist for the Los Angeles Book Prize; and Last Friends, finalist for the Folio Award. She lives in the south of England near the sea.

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