Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize
After a lifetime's struggle with alcohol, critical neglect and depression, in 1840 the nature poet John Clare is incarcerated. The asylum, in London's Epping Forest, is run on the reformist principles of occupational therapy. At the same time, the young Alfred Tennyson, moves nearby and became entangled in the life of the asylum. This historically accurate, intensely lyrical novel, describes the asylum's closed world and Nature's paradise outside the walls: Clare's dream of home, of redemption, of escape.
A seamless blend of historical fact and fiction...Foulds's writing has a poetic intensity and his descriptions of the autumnal woods around the asylum are as piercingly keen as his insight into the minds of the patients, the doctor and his family
Adam Foulds won the 2008 Costa Poetry Award, and he is a skilful poet. These talents are well displayed in his prose which, while lyrical, never grows fussy or highfalutin'. He draws a walk-on character with a few deft strokes
A work of strikingly beautiful, unforced writing
The chief pleasure of the book is its prose: exquisite yet measured, precise, attentive to the world
Fould's exceptional novel is like a lucid dream: earthy and true, but shifting, metamorphic - the word-perfect fruit of a poet's sharp eye and novelist's limber reach