May 1944: High above the mountains of occupied Slovenia an aeroplane drops three British parachutists – brash MP Major Jack Farwell, radio operator Sid Dixon, and young academic Lieutenant Tom Freedman.
Greeted upon arrival by a group of Partisans, the men are led off into the countryside. Despite the distant crackle of gunfire, the war feels a long way off for Tom. The Partisans, too, are not what he was expecting – courageous, kind, and alluring, especially Jovan, their commander, and the hauntingly beautiful Marija.
As the enemy’s net begins to tighten, they find evidence of massacres, of a dark and terrible band of men pursuing them. As they stumble their way towards a final, tragic battle, so the relationships within the group begin to fray, with Tom finding himself forced to face up to his deepest, most secret desires.
Leonard and Rosemary Cannon summon their middle-aged offspring, along with partners and children, to the family home in the Welsh Marches for the Christmas holiday. As the gathered family settle in to their first Christmas together for some years, the grown siblings - Rodney, Jonny and Gwen - are surprised when they are invited to each put stickers on the furniture and items they wish to inherit from their parents.
Disputed Land is narrated by Leonard and Rosemary's thirteen-year-old grandson, Theo, who observes how from these innocent beginnings age-old fissures open up in the relationships of those around him. Looking back at this Christmas gathering from his own middle-age - a narrator at once nostalgic and naïve - Theo Cannon remembers his imperious grandmother Rosemary, alpha-male uncle Jonny, abominable twin cousins Xan and Baz; he recalls his love for his grandfather Leonard and the burgeoning feelings for his cousin Holly. And he asks himself the question: if a single family cannot solve the problem of what it bequeaths to future generations, then what chance does a whole society have of leaving the world intact?
In a small town in the middle of England, the aftermath of the Second World War brings change. For ambitious industrialist Charles Freeman, it offers new opportunities and marriage to Mary. He buys the big house on the hill and nails his aspirations to the future.
In quick succession, three sons and a daughter bring life to the big house and, with it, the seeds of family joy and tragedy. As the children grow and struggle with the hazards of adulthood, Charles' business expands in direct proportion to his girth and becomes a symbol of the town's fortunes as Britain claws its way back from the grey austerity of wartime Britain.
As times change, so do the family's fortunes. Their stories create a generous epic, an extraordinarily rich and plangent hymn to the transformation of middle England over the past fifty years. At its heart is a diverse and persuasive cast of loveable and odious characters attempting to contend with the restrictions of their generation. This is the story of our lives.
It begins at the stroke of midnight on the first day of 1997. As the year turns, a group of disparate individuals from different backgrounds, from all corners of the country, are about to embark on separate journeys which will converge over the course of the next twelve months: among them, Rebecca - mother-to-be, Sam - amnesiac, Roderick - Conservative MP, Jack - lorry driver, Martha - cat burglar, Ben - paraplegic child, Solo - his abandoned father.
At the end of that year, their lives will have changed irrevocably, some for better, some for worse, but changed nonetheless. They cannot know what will happen to them, but there is an inevitability in their shared destiny that will prove impossible to withstand...
A Revolution of the Sun tells the story of one momentous year through the eyes of the people who lived it. It is not only their stories, but also the anatomy of a nation in flux. Ambitious, powerful, irresistible, it is the work of a writer at the peak of his powers and once again demonstrates Pears to be a great contemporary novelist.
Brought up in the Anglo-Welsh borders by an affectionate but alcoholic and feckless mother, Owen Ithell's sense of self is rooted in his long, vivid visits to his grandparents' small farm in the hills. There he is deeply impressed by his grandfather's primitive, cruel relationship with his animals and the land.
As an adult he moves away from the country of his childhood to an English city where he builds a new life, working as a gardener. He meets Mel, they have children. He believes he has found happiness - and love - of a sort.
But following a car accident, in which his daughter is killed and he loses a hand, the course of his life and the lives of those he loves is changed forever. Owen, unable to work, alienated and eventually legally separated from his family, is haunted by suicidal thoughts. In his despair, he resolves to reconnect with both his past and the natural world. Abducting his children, he embarks on a long, fateful journey, walking to the Welsh borders of his childhood.In his confusion his journey is a grasping at some kind of an understanding of his loss.
Powerful, richly evocative and perfectly poised between the hope of redemption and the threat of irrevocable tragedy, Landed is Tim Pears' most assured and beguiling novel to date.
Tim Pears is the author of five novels: In the Place of Fallen Leaves (which won the Hawthornden Prize and the Ruth Hadden Memorial Award), In a Land of Plenty, A Revolution of the Sun, Wake Up and Blenheim Orchard. In a Land of Plenty was made into a ten-part BBC TV series. Tim Pears has also received the Lannan Award in the USA. He lives in Oxford.