Fiction & Poetry, Modern & Contemporary Fiction
Paperback Published on: 08/03/2018
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Bookseller Reviews

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a quiet gem of a book
Lovely, lyrical and melancholy. The lives of W.H. Auden and Dora Fielding seem to come together so seamlessly as to be utterly believable. For me, Larchfie... READ MORE
Laura at Wakefield
A poignantly beautiful portrait of loneliness and friendship
Doris, a poet, and her husband have moved to their perfect home in Helensburgh, Scotland, close by to Larchfield boy’s school where Wystan H Auden spends o... READ MORE
LG at Loughborough


'We need the courage to choose ourselves' - W. H. Auden

It's early summer when a young poet, Dora Fielding, moves to Helensburgh on the west coast of Scotland and her hopes are first challenged. Newly married, pregnant, she's excited by the prospect of a life that combines family and creativity. She thinks she knows what being a person, a wife, a mother, means.

She is soon shown that she is wrong.

As the battle begins for her very sense of self, Dora comes to find the realities of small town life suffocating, and, eventually, terrifying; until she finds a way to escape reality altogether.

She finds herself drawn into the life of another poet, Wystan H. Auden. Brilliant and awkward at 24, with his first book of poetry published, Auden should be embarking on success and society in London. Instead, in 1930, fleeing a broken engagement, he takes a teaching post at Larchfield School for boys where he is mocked for his Englishness and suspected - rightly - of homosexuality. Yet in this repressed limbo Wystan finds love for the first time, even as he fights his deepest fears.

The need for human connection compels these two vulnerable outsiders to find each other and make a reality of their own that will save them both.

Echoing the fluency and authenticity of Possession, the elegance of The Stranger's Child and the ingenuity of Longbourn, Larchfield is a beautiful and haunting novel about loneliness, endurance and the unusual bravery that allows unusual people to go on living, to transcend banality and suffering with the power of imagination.

'Larchfield is that rarest of rare first novels - a book that actually achieves its great ambition. I found it so immensely readable; it's brainy, verbally acute and knowing, with an ingenious literary historical premise that it impressively (and artfully) carries off right in front of your eyes. It's work of considerable talent.' - Richard Ford

  • Publisher: Quercus Publishing
  • ISBN: 9781786481955
  • Number of pages: 368
  • Weight: 260g
  • Dimensions: 196 x 128 x 28 mm

Customer Reviews

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character focused suspense
Larchfield, is an intriguing, and often very gripping read. It can be described as a time slip novel.A romance novel.A novel of suspense. A novel of ille... READ MORE
david norman
I purchased Larchfield on the strength of the Waterstones blog-link, and was really looking forward to what promised to be an innovative novel. Sadly, afte... READ MORE
Caz Stevens
a good read.
I enjoyed Larchfield, by Polly Clark. It tells the story of two people. Wystan H Auden struggling with his illegal desires. And, several decades later,... READ MORE
david norman