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The Year Without Summer: 1816 - one event, six lives, a world changed - longlisted for the Walter Scott Prize 2021
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The Year Without Summer: 1816 - one event, six lives, a world changed - longlisted for the Walter Scott Prize 2021 (Hardback)

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'A STRIKINGLY SHARP AND SUBTLE WRITER' Guardian 'Rich in voice, beautifully told' HWA





1815, Sumbawa Island, Indonesia

Mount Tambora explodes in a cataclysmic eruption, killing thousands. Sent to investigate, ship surgeon Henry Hogg can barely believe his eyes. Once a paradise, the island is now solid ash, the surrounding sea turned to stone. But worse is yet to come: as the ash cloud rises and covers the sun, the seasons will fail.


In Switzerland, Mary Shelley finds dark inspiration. Confined inside by the unseasonable weather, thousands of famine refugees stream past her door. In Vermont, preacher Charles Whitlock begs his followers to keep faith as drought dries their wells and their livestock starve.

In Suffolk, the ambitious and lovesick painter John Constable struggles to reconcile the idyllic England he paints with the misery that surrounds him. In the Fens, farm labourer Sarah Hobbs has had enough of going hungry while the farmers flaunt their wealth. And Hope Peter, returned from the Napoleonic wars, finds his family home demolished and a fence gone up in its place. He flees to London, where he falls in with a group of revolutionaries who speak of a better life, whatever the cost. As desperation sets in, Britain becomes beset by riots - rebellion is in the air.

The Year Without Summer is the story of the books written, the art made; of the journeys taken, of the love longed for and the lives lost during that fateful year. Six separate lives, connected only by an event many thousands of miles away. Few had heard of Tambora - but none could escape its effects.






Art, Fashion & PhotographyArt monographs, history & theoryHistory of art / art & design stylesFiction & PoetryHistorical FictionHistory & PoliticsHistory: specific events & topicsSocial & cultural historyNatural World & The EnvironmentThe environmentPollution & threats to the environmentGlobal warming Publisher: John Murray Press Publication Date: 06/02/2020 ISBN-13: 9781473672291  Details: Type: Hardback Format: Books
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Guinevere Glasfurd was born in Lancaster and lives near Cambridge with her husband and daughter. Her debut novel, The Words in My Hand, was shortlisted for the 2016 Costa First Novel Award and Authors' Club Best First Novel Award and was longlisted in France for the Prix du Roman FNAC. The Year Without Summer was written with support from the MacDowell Colony Foundation. Awarded grants from the Arts Council England and the British Council for her novels, her writing has also appeared in the Scotsman, Mslexia and The National Galleries of Scotland. She is currently working on her third novel, a story of the Enlightenment, set in eighteenth-century England and France.

More books by Guinevere Glasfurd

Customer Reviews

There are six characters in this book, all of them fighting against the odds. The reason is simple - the eruption of a volcano - Mount Tambora. The year is 1815, but it is a chilling suggestion of how the climate of the entire world can be changed by one event, as in Britain, in Europe, in America, lives are changed by what happened when a mountain just exploded. For although one character actually goes to the terrifying site of the massive destruction and sees at first hand the death and suffering, other people who had never even heard of that part of the world are affected. Ranging from a young girl fighting her world, a young woman, Mary Shelley who finds inspiration for one of the most famous characters in literature, to a famous painter who discovers a whole new style, this book has a huge scope of people in great depth. It is a fascinating read, with vivid descriptions of landscapes and seasons turned completely upside down, winter in summer, drought then heavy rain, hope then surprise. This book captures real human emotions as the world is changed, and the people who live through the time have to change as well. I found it an incredible read, which moved from character to character and maintained interest in every way. I was really pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this amazing book. The first character to be encountered is Henry Hogg, shown in 1815 as the young doctor is on board a ship heading towards a potential pirate raid as explosions have been heard. It soon becomes evident that something far more cataclysmic has occurred, and Henry describes what he sees and experiences in letters to his wife. Later in 1816, Mary Shelley has to cope with literary stars as well as the shortage of basic food on a famous trip to Switzerland as she seeks inspiration for a story that will rock many people’s perceptions of life. John Constable, struggling artist and calculating if he can marry his beloved Maria, visits various parts of Britain and witnesses first hand the shortages of food and the desperation of the poor. Sarah is a girl for whom survival is difficult, as she seeks work in fields empty of crops and for bread that cannot be bought. Further afield, a young preacher, Charles, discovers the cost of love in a time of scarcity and summer snow. Hope Peter, experienced in war and army life, discovers real danger when he returns to England from a famous battle. Despite the desperation of several of the characters, this amazing book with its detailed exploration of a world undergoing a change through the lives of six people is a well paced book. It is a vibrant description which must be powered by immense research in social history, but this research is never allowed to intrude, as the author never loses sight of the real people at the centre of the stories. This means that the reader feels alongside the characters described, and gains a real sense of a time which made people question everything. I recommend this incredible book of historical fiction with a unique focus.

- 08/03/2020
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