*** DEBUG END ***

The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig

24 November 2017

QUENTIN and Lottie face a very modern dilemma in The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig (Little, Brown, £16.99 (£15.30); 978-1-40870-0). They want to divorce, but can’t sell their London house for enough to buy a flat each. As the recession has claimed both their jobs, the only answer is to let the house and move to darkest Devon for a year until prices rise.

As both a health visitor and a sheep-farmer’s wife, Sally Verity, happily married but sadly childless, sees the countryside’s dark underbelly. Lottie’s mixed-race teenage son Xan, his life blighted for ever, he believes, by failing to make his grades for Cambridge, gets a zero-hours contract at a local pie factory.

There are mysteries. Why is the family’s farmhouse rented so cheaply despite its space and lovely views; and why can their cleaner’s lumpen daughter, Xan’s colleague on the night shift, play the piano so beautifully?

As ever with one of Craig’s novels, readers find themselves parachuted into a different universe. Like Dickens before her, she has done her research, and is concerned to show us how this world actually is, and what a supermarket’s cheap food costs in human terms.

She conveys passion — Quentin’s for journalism and the pleasure of using his sharp mind; Lottie’s for architecture and the act of creation, and the frustration of losing job, status, and income that come with it.

A perceptive psychologist, Craig explores the dynamics of two marriages, the happy and the fractured, to show us why long unions work, or do not. Above all, she creates complex characters, and handles them with great sympathy. We may feel that Quentin is beyond redemption, and that Xan should just pull himself together; she does not, and we soon care about them as much as she does. It’s a meaty and absorbing novel, which lingers with you long after it comes to an end.


Fiona Hook is a writer and EFL teacher.

Church Times Bookshop

Save money on books reviewed or featured in the Church Times. To get your reader discount:

> Click on the “Church Times Bookshop” link at the end of the review.

> Call 0845 017 6965 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm).

The reader discount is valid for two months after the review publication date. E&OE

Forthcoming Events

6-7 September 2022
Preaching as Pilgrimage conference
From the College of Preachers.

8 September 2022
Church Times Cricket Cup: North v. South
Join us to watch the match at the Walker Cricket Ground, in Southgate, north London.

26 September 2022
What am I living for? God
Sam Wells and Lucy Winkett begin the St Martin-in-the-Fields autumn lecture series in partnership with Church Times.

More events

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)