Peculiar Ground by Lucy Hughes-Hallett
9780008126506 Fourth Estate
One of the best novels of the year so far' The Times 'Unlike anything I've read. Haunting and huge, and funny and sensuous. It's wonderful' Tessa Hadley 'I just enjoyed it so very much' Philip Pullman It is the 17th century and a wall is being built around a great house.
Wychwood is an enclosed world, its ornamental lakes and majestic avenues planned by Mr Norris, landscape-maker. A world where everyone has something to hide after decades of civil war, where dissidents shelter in the forest, lovers linger in secret gardens, and migrants, fleeing the plague, are turned away from the gate. Three centuries later, another wall goes up overnight, dividing Berlin, while at Wychwood, over one hot, languorous weekend, erotic entanglements are shadowed by news of historic change.
A little girl, Nell, observes all. Nell grows up and Wychwood is invaded. There is a pop festival by the lake, a TV crew in the dining room and a Great Storm brewing.
As the Berlin wall comes down, a fatwa signals a different ideological faultline and a refugee seeks safety in Wychwood. From the multi-award-winning author of The Pike comes a breathtakingly ambitious, beautiful and timely novel about game keepers and witches, agitators and aristocrats, about young love and the pathos of aging, and about how those who wall others out risk finding themselves walled in.