by Carys Davies
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Pub Date 7 Mar 2024 | Archive Date Not set
A wondrous tale of bonds forged when two men are pitted against each other on a remote island during the Highland Clearances, from the prize-winning author of West.
1843. On a remote Scottish island, Ivar, the sole occupant, leads a life of quiet isolation until the day he finds a man unconscious on the beach below the cliffs. The newcomer is John Ferguson, an impoverished church minister sent to evict Ivar and turn the island into grazing land for sheep. Unaware of the stranger's intentions, Ivar takes him into his home, and in spite of the two men having no common language, a fragile bond begins to form between them. Meanwhile on the mainland, John's wife Mary anxiously awaits news of his mission.
Against the rugged backdrop of this faraway spot beyond Shetland, Carys Davies's intimate drama unfolds with tension and tenderness: a touching and crystalline study of ordinary people buffeted by history and a powerful exploration of the distances and connections between us. Perfectly structured and surprising at every turn, Clear is a marvel of storytelling, an exquisite short novel by a master of the form.
‘An exquisite, hopeful masterpiece... Magical and humane, it is a celebration of love and courage, and absolutely beautiful. It will be my favourite book of 2024, and probably many more years to come’ Rachel Joyce
‘This intriguing and inventive story escorts the reader to an unexpectedly joyous ending that hints at our contemporary interest in new ideas of what a family might be. The writing style is one of clarity and reserved sensibility punctuated with an end-game needle jab. Not to be missed’ Annie Proulx
‘Clear is a love letter to a vanished way of life, to a landscape, and to human relationships. Captivating, tender, and satisfying, this is a novel to be savoured’ Claire Fuller
‘A wonderfully humane and moving depiction of loneliness and the connections forged between strangers that transcend all barriers, even language’ Clare Chambers
‘With Clear, Carys Davies has again done brilliantly what she does best — saying most by saying least. She has the rare gift of eloquent brevity — Clear is astute, moving, unexpected’ Penelope Lively
‘In Clear Carys Davies takes us through an archipelago of short chapters, stepping stones that lead us along a narrative of such intensity that the reader's desire is to finish the book at a sitting’ Bernard MacLaverty
‘Carys Davies is a writer of enviable sentences, descriptions and scenes. The atmosphere rendered in Clear is so true and immediate, any reader will be left with a sense memory of this landscape and these people. The story is original, captivating and lasting. Exquisite stuff’ Caoilinn Hughes
‘Clear is a compact, taut and brilliant novel with an ingenious premise: one man is sent to evict another from his land, but suddenly requires the second man’s aid. Everything gets more complicated from there. The book is about belonging, a dying language, secrets, and a pistol in a box. I loved every page’ Anthony Doerr
‘The sheer beauty of Clear — with its perfect sentences, its austere tenderness, and its quiet sense of disquiet — feels timeless. In fact, not since Silas Marner had I encountered such a poignant, profound depiction of both solitude and connection. Carys Davies has written a masterful, discreetly sublime book’ Hernan Diaz
‘Carys Davies’ great gift is believing that her characters, whether they know it or not, have in them the strength to answer back against circumstances that would annihilate them. The circumstances here, devised by the merciless rich and powerful, are the Clearances. Ivar, a remaining islander his lord wants rid of, has in his own almost extinct tongue the word liki whose meaning is: ‘When the thing is at the very start of what it will become.’ What starts as his old life ends under duress, is indeed a new becoming’ David Constantine