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Clay (2013)

por Melissa Harrison

MiembrosReseñasPopularidadValoración promediaMenciones
6613305,850 (3.78)26
A boy creeps down from a high-rise block in the half-light of dawn to see the neat prints left by a fox on the frosty grass. He is TC, eight years old and skipping school to spend his time exploring the city's waste ground and long-forgotten wild corners. At school and at home he is barely missed. Sophia, seventy-eight and a half and still wearing her dear dead husband's shoes, looks out through her kitchen window at the little city park outside her flat, its grassy acres grimy and litter-blown, but to her eyes beautiful. She is writing her weekly letter to her granddaughter Daisy, whose privileged upbringing means she exists in a different world to that of TC, even though they live less than a mile apart. Jozef spends his days clearing houses and works night shifts at the local takeaway, but he is unable to forget the farm he left behind in Poland, the woods and fields he grew up with still a part of him, although he is a thousand miles away. When he meets TC in the little park one night he finds a kindred spirit, despite the forty years between them: both lonely, both looking for something, both lost. A lyrical debut novel about innocence and experience, class and consumerism, Clay captures the delicate balance of life in the city, between young and old, between nature and development, between recklessness and caution.… (más)
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    La elegancia del erizo por Muriel Barbery (tangledthread)
    tangledthread: There is a similar feel to the book and the cast of characters in the two books.
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The tiny city park is a hub and a focus for many of the local residents. Sophia sees its beauty even through the litter as it is blown around in the wind. A nine year old boy, TC, is discovering the joy that nature can bring as he plays truant from school to explore and discover. Sophia’s granddaughter Daisy who lives round the corner just sees it as a place to play. And there is Jozef, a farmer from Poland, he is now clearing homes and serving at a takeaway, but still has that yearning for the forests and fields of his homeland.

These four people are brought together like those small whirlwinds that lift the leaves up in the air. TC and Jozef hit it off together immediately with their common love of the natural world, and Jozef takes an interest in his life and the pain TC has from his father leaving. Sophia is trying to spark an interest in nature and the wider world with her granddaughter, but her daughter has other ideas as to what her Daisy should and should not be doing. TC and Daisy occasionally climb trees and play together, but their worlds are so different. Events drift slowly on until someone watching draws the wrong conclusion about an event.

Harrison writes lyrically in this book on the urban space, but all the way through it is infused with melancholy. There is not just the sadness of the four characters as they go about their daily lives and deal with their own trials and tribulations, but she has picked up on the ambiance of class and consumerism that permeates modern London these days. Her keen eyes write about the smallest details; the unfurling of leaves, the glisten of a stag beetle shell, the tiny channels left by voles, and these all bring alive the natural world of the park. It is a hauntingly beautiful book; not happy by any means, but effortless to read. ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
Although for many years I’d enjoyed Melissa Harrison’s nature writing, the first novel of hers which I read was “All Among the Barley” and, having enjoyed her quite brilliant story-telling in that one, I was motivated to read her debut novel … as well as any others she has already written… or will write in the future!
I love her eloquent, lyrical and unhurried prose, which she uses very effectively to encapsulate something essential about the changing seasons of the natural world, demonstrating how, even in the most urban of environments, it’s possible to observe these changes if you’re prepared to take the time to stop, look, listen and smell. I enjoyed the myriad ways in which she used the interest each of her main characters showed in the flora and fauna which surrounded them to create the links which brought them together, creating the inter-relatedness which shaped the story’s development. Whilst I felt that I got to know the three main characters well, there were moments when I felt there was an imbalance in the overall story-telling, that nature and the urban landscape were rather more evocatively-drawn “characters” than some of the more peripheral, but key to the story, human ones, rendering them rather one-dimensional. As an example, I’d like to have understood much more about why Kelly, TC’s mother, was so neglectful of her young son. I’m not a reader who needs to have everything spelled out to me but, although there were some implicit clues, a little more background information would have added an important extra dimension to understanding the driving-force behind her behaviour. However, in spite of this slight criticism, I did find myself drawn into the worlds of each of the characters and found myself caring deeply about what was happening to them, feeling increasingly fearful about their individual fates as the story unfolded and reached its sad, if predictable, conclusion.
I found it fascinating (as well as impressive) to discover that all the “seeds” for Melissa Harrison’s “trademark” reflections on the inter-connectedness of nature and her human characters were apparent in this story. However, I think that in her later writing she has refined this skill, achieving a better balance and making the inter-relatedness even more powerfully significant. A sad and haunting story. ( )
  linda.a. | Feb 24, 2020 |
Esta reseña ha sido escrita por los Primeros Reseñadores de LibraryThingSUB2>.
Harrison's debut novel is a beautiful story of innocence and an awakening awareness of the natural world around us. TC is a young boy from a broken home who lives with his mom in a housing scheme in an unidentified UK town near a city park and commons. The green spaces are a refuge for TC, away from home and school. Others also take comfort in the green space: 78 year old Sophia Adams continues to live in a ground floor flat of Plestor Estates near the park, where her daughter Linda and son Michael were raised and where she is trying to develop an interest in nature in her granddaughter Daisy; and Josef, is a recent Polish immigrant in his 40's from a small farming community.

Told over the course of 12 months, the story follows nature's path through the seasons and slowly unfolds the stories of the various characters - TC's troubles at home and school; Josef's struggles to understand the concrete city he now lives in and its inhabitants, at times so alien from the life he knew in his native Poland; and Sophia's observations from her kitchen window of the park and the interactions she has with her daughter and granddaughter.

he main focal point of the story is the park, and it is the park that draws the characters together. As beautiful as Harrison's prose is, and as well drawn as the characters are, I found the overall story of our characters and the plot overshadowed by her lyrical descriptions of the natural world. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but may prove to be a bit of a slog for a reader more interested in the characters than the scenery. Overall, an insight-fully written story of the challenges of our modern lives and the resilience of nature to continue its own life-cycle rhythm around us.

This book was courtesy of Librarything's Early Review Program. ( )
2 vota lkernagh | Jan 13, 2013 |
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The little wedge-shaped city park was as beautiful and as unremarkable as a thousand others across the country, and despite the changing seasons many of the people who lived near it barely even knew that it was there -- although that was certainly not true of all.
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A boy creeps down from a high-rise block in the half-light of dawn to see the neat prints left by a fox on the frosty grass. He is TC, eight years old and skipping school to spend his time exploring the city's waste ground and long-forgotten wild corners. At school and at home he is barely missed. Sophia, seventy-eight and a half and still wearing her dear dead husband's shoes, looks out through her kitchen window at the little city park outside her flat, its grassy acres grimy and litter-blown, but to her eyes beautiful. She is writing her weekly letter to her granddaughter Daisy, whose privileged upbringing means she exists in a different world to that of TC, even though they live less than a mile apart. Jozef spends his days clearing houses and works night shifts at the local takeaway, but he is unable to forget the farm he left behind in Poland, the woods and fields he grew up with still a part of him, although he is a thousand miles away. When he meets TC in the little park one night he finds a kindred spirit, despite the forty years between them: both lonely, both looking for something, both lost. A lyrical debut novel about innocence and experience, class and consumerism, Clay captures the delicate balance of life in the city, between young and old, between nature and development, between recklessness and caution.

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