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?
Packs a real emotional punch...Pears, who could not write an ugly sentence if he tried ... His portrait of a family at a time of change is also a lament for a country which is losing its environmental way.
Beautifully understated...A low-key family gathering in the Welsh Marches blossoms into an elegiac meditation on our relationship with the land we inhabit.
'Delightful ... Pears has terrific fun with his cast and is highly skilled at drawing out foibles and grudges
Very sympathetic, intelligent and moving ... Pears's depiction of enduring married love is beautifully done ... Pears is so adept at the illuminating detail, writes so beautifully of the pleasures of life ... it is a warm and affirmative novel, one which offers incidental joys on every page. It is perhaps the finest book he has written yet.
A thorough examination of nostalgia itself.