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Publisher's Summary

Chosen as Book of the Year by The Guardian, Observer, Telegraph, New Statesman, Evening Standard, Sunday Times and Irish Times.

Quentin and Lottie Bredin, like many modern couples, can't afford to divorce. Having lost their jobs in the recession, they can't afford to go on living in London; instead, they must downsize and move their three children to a house in a remote part of Devon. Arrogant and adulterous, Quentin can't understand why Lottie is so angry; devastated and humiliated, Lottie feels herself to have been intolerably wounded. 

Mud, mice and quarrels are one thing - but why is their rent so low? What is the mystery surrounding their unappealing new home? The beauty of the landscape is ravishing, yet it conceals a dark side involving poverty, revenge, abuse and violence which will rise up to threaten them. 

Sally Verity, happily married but unhappily childless, knows a different side to country life, as both a Health Visitor and a sheep farmer's wife; and when Lottie's innocent teenage son, Xan, gets a zero-hours contract at a local pie factory, he sees yet another. At the end of their year, the lives of all will be changed forever. 

A suspenseful black comedy, this is a rich, compassionate and enthralling novel in its depiction of the English countryside and the potentially lethal interplay between money and marriage. 

©2018 Amanda Craig (P)2018 Little, Brown Book Group

Critic Reviews

"I loved the The Lie of the Land. A panoramic, superbly-plotted novel about the ways we live now, about money and desire, cruelty and generosity, crime and vengeance, country and city. Craig is at the top of her game." (Helen Dunmore)
"She has everything you look for in a major novelist." (Alison Pearson, Sunday Telegraph)
"Terrific, page-turning, slyly funny." (India Knight)

What listeners say about The Lie of the Land

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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A Country Life Transforms

This has been such a difficult book for me to review because the writing was so perfect, so supremely beautiful and completely spot on in its descriptions of farm life, complex families, end of life care and the mess that can occur in marriage. I absolutely loved the depth and connection between the characters. Even better, the really scary bits were subtly woven into the story. For me, the scariest parts of the book oddly had little to do with the murder mystery.

Craig really captured the realities of farm to table food production in all its horrors and heartbreaks. She got so much right about the back breaking degree of labor required to live the country life. She delved deeply into complicated issues of trust and honesty in relationships. My favorite aspect of the book was the year-in-the-life tone it took in portraying living in the country and the impact that had on each family member. The descriptions of the seasonal changes, the harshness of winter, the beauty of nature and the seaside were evocatively written and wonderful. I really loved so much about this book.

That said, I have to admit that there were things I disliked or really disagreed with about the book. I, for example, hated the ending. I cringed at the factory food production stories and I found that I disagreed with some of the medical info presented. In the end, however, it was precisely these extreme feelings--both positive and negative, that made me choose to rate the book all five stars. The story had real depth and caused such powerful reactions and emotions that it had me fussing and thinking. The sign of really good fiction. Glad I didn't miss this one.

14 people found this helpful

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Nature Heals

From the beginning you know what's going to happen and the story just goes round and round until what you know is going to happen, happens. Also the author makes sure that plot, characters and theme is balanced, loving and nurturing. A little boring.

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  • becsicle
  • 03-22-18

Decent read

This was a bit of a slow burner for me. I think I struggled to get into it because I just didn’t care much for the characters. The son Xan was the only one I did like.
A bit predictable but I did enjoy it in the end.
The narrator was ok in general but was terrible at ‘accents’ and that put me off a bit.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Bootie Boot
  • 02-17-18

Intruiging slow paced story

Selected this after a review in the Times. Unusual storyline and I don't normally read books set in the countryside or that address rural issues. Interesting and very informative & thought provoking. Only serious negative was appalling accents by narrator. Unacceptable when so many good voice actors can replicate accents realistically. The South African character sounded more like a geordie Indian.

2 people found this helpful

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  • the typist
  • 07-26-20

Excellent yet exhaustingly middle class...

I realise there are many real life people like the characters involved in this story. But the writer somehow manages to make them so toe curlingly obnoxious in their middle classness that they seem like caricatured monsters. That said, it’s still a fantastic read. Insightful and mysterious and an engaging slice of life.

1 person found this helpful

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  • penelopepurple
  • 03-22-18

riveting plot but much too wordy

What would have made The Lie of the Land better?

I was longing to edit out some of the long, repetitive passages. I thought the themes of the novel, town v. country values, longterm marriage, men and women, guilt and forgiveness were great and the plot excellent. The story alone could have held these themes without the point being laboured so, and the novel would have been shorter, more subtle and less predictable.

What was most disappointing about Amanda Craig’s story?

The amount of repetition and how things were spelled out rather than suggested

What about Emma Powell’s performance did you like?

Voice and pacing were great

You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

It was a cracking story. Much as I was irritated by some of the long passages, I had to know what would happen

1 person found this helpful

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  • mrs cr young
  • 07-06-20

Entertaining but don’t take it too seriously

I enjoyed this as one might enjoy a beach novel. It’s not a serious critique of middle class life, or Devonian society or political incorrectness, as some reviews imply. It’s a half decent plot, with lively characterisation, set in a beautiful part of the UK and written with enough pace to keep the pages turning. Craig’s observations are astute. Sadly the accents are truly terrible!

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  • AndreaW
  • 06-16-20

A page turner

I really liked this book. Amanda Craig is very good although I get a bit fed-up with the constant references to errant husbands and hard-done-by wives. There's also too much on living on the bread line. I understand that both are necessary to the story but enough!.
Also I find Emma Powell's voice hard to listen to, rather croaky and inclined to drop to a whisper which is useless for hard of hearing people like me.
It was my second Amanda Craig audio book and I shall look for another.

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  • Chloe Rawlings
  • 02-03-20

Mostly excellent

The only complaint I have about this otherwise most wise brilliantly written and performed book is the narrator’s terrible accents. There are South African and Australian characters, and their accents were truly awful.

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  • Moira
  • 12-24-19

Just brilliant

This is the second Amanda Craig book I’ve ‘read’, after loving ‘Hearts and Minds’. It’s just as good and I didn’t want it to end. What makes it so great? Really well shaped characters, an exciting plot and the whole dichotomy the main family faces between living in London and rural Devon.
Just read it!

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  • Prospecta
  • 04-29-19

Clumsy clomp through cloying cliches

The narration suited the novel and I didn’t enjoy either of them. By the end I wasn’t even listening as my own thoughts were more stimulating.

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  • Margaret
  • 09-09-18

WELL WORTH A READ

Amanda Craig writes beautifully, I enjoyed her previous book, Hearts and Minds, very absorbing. I thought this a tad long, but nevertheless realistic and highly entertaining novel of ordinary people moving from London to Devon (as divorce proved too expensive) and all the Devon folk they encounter. Intelligent writer, a very good book. I see that it won book of the year from 7 major newspapers, I'm not surprised.

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  • Tristram
  • 03-11-18

Good piece of literary fiction with some thrills

Found it to be well-written and insightful concerning marriage and the human condition. Some big thrills and spills in there too, to keep you turning the page.