The Costa Award-winning author of The Pike makes her literary fiction debut with a sprawling historical novel in the spirit of Wolf Hall and Atonement—a great English country house novel, spanning three centuries, that explores themes of immigration and exclusion.
...a dazzling historical novel with timely resonances for the Trumpian present ... This large cast and considerable expanse of time demand a complicated structure and expert juggling. The author is up to the job ... Their voices, some flowery and mature, others young and modern, are beautifully nuanced, the syntax appropriate to period, gender, class, and personality. The prose is uniformly gorgeous ... Treated to such a brilliant, ambitious mixture of actual history and creative invention, the determined reader, however daunted by the novel’s enormous scale, will turn the last page rewarded, delighted, and eager for Hughes-Hallett’s next.
In her clever, many-layered debut novel, Lucy Hughes-Hallett casts a historian’s panoramic eye over human walls of every kind, from the biblical Jericho to postwar Berlin ... In this novel her observation of the societies of both her chosen eras, Stuart and present-day, is sophisticated and erudite ... In the breadth of her historical vision and her fastidious particularity, Ms. Hughes-Hallett is a natural heir to A.S. Byatt, delivering a densely patterned novel that shimmers with human interest as it probes our cultural story ... Even if this seems a bit too schematic, the author never shies from large themes, and usually makes the most of them.
...this large and rich kitchen sink of a novel (as in everything but) is full of drama, vivid characters, wit, gorgeous writing and fascinating botanical, religious and social detail ... If you’re not quite sure how to draw your plot to a close, try an act of nature, a flood or a windstorm. After all, Thomas Hardy and George Eliot did it. Still, Peculiar Ground, with its witches and aristocrats, its highly educated men, women and children, and its gradations of every conceivable social type between upstairs and downstairs, is a grand spectacle.