The author of the highly acclaimed, bestselling novel The Uninvited Guests returns with a captivating coming of age story told by Amy and Lan, two children whose journey from innocence to moving experience is shaped by their families' attempt at the pastoral dream on a farm, deep in the English countryside.
“The very first thing I remember is standing on the water-butt in the garden, with my Mum holding me to stop me falling, singing 'I'm On Top of the World' , and the smell of the new wood in the hot sun. And something do with Mum's silver necklace. Amy doesn't remember any of that. Her very first memory is our wolfhound Ivan knocking her over in a puddle. Or it might be eating a boiled egg, and looking at the daisies on her kitchen tablecloth.”
Amy Connell and Lan Honey are having the best childhood ever. They live on a 78-acre farm in the South West of England, with sisters and brothers, other kids, chickens, goats, three dogs, and even a calf, called Gabriella Christmas.
“Honeys in the Farmhouse, Connells in the Cowhouse, Hodges in the Carthouse . . .”
The three sets of parents are best friends who came to Frith from the city, and are learning, year after year, how to farm the land.
Free and unsupervised, Amy and Lan play with axes and climb on haystacks, but there is grownup danger at Frith they don't see. It's Gail, Lan's mother, and Adam, Amy's father who should be more careful. They should learn what kids know: never to play with fire.
Sadie Jones is the author of five novels, including The Outcast, winner of the Costa First Novel Award in Great Britain and a finalist for the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Los Angeles TimesBook Prize/Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction; the enchanting, hard-hitting novel set on the island of Cyprus during the British occupation, Small Wars; her most successful, bestselling novel The Uninvited Guests, beloved of Ann Patchett and Jackie Winspear, among other; the romantic novel set in London's glamorous theatre world, Fallout; and most recently, the highly acclaimed, bestselling novel, The Snakes. Sadie Jones lives in London.
“A delightful story of life on an English farm coop from the perspective of two children….An extramarital affair adds more tension to the farm....Jones does a solid job showing how Amy and Lan, despite their naivety, perceive the truth of the adults’ conflicts. This is great fun.” — Publishers Weekly
“Two children observe and embody the liberating yet risky social experiment of communal living on an English farm… Amy, the “practical” one, and Lan, “a dreamer,” have a near-seamless relationship built on their freedom (playing with axes, climbing on roofs) and joint need for reassurance in the face of chaos and absurdity. And then there are the grown-ups, who bicker and quarrel over practical issues and, inevitably, relationships… It’s at Frith, an earthly Eden, where matters—and childhoods—must end. Change is gonna come in this poignant, low-key coming-of-age tale.” — Kirkus Reviews
“[Sadie Jones’s] achingly poignant sixth novel recounts the story of two youngsters whose friendship is pulled apart by the tensions of the adult world in a rural Eden… This is a novel of quiet beauty, vividly evoking the magnitude of childhood loss and the capacity for hope.” — The Guardian
“Jones’ skillfully rendered, character-driven coming-of-age work is a bittersweet delight for fans of Beryl Bainbridge and Elizabeth Gill.” — Booklist
“Jones’ evocation of childhood is spot-on: its fierce passions, disaffections, loyalties, and suffering….Loss of innocence in its various forms is threaded throughout the novel, from the killing of a favorite turkey for Christmas to the intrusion of contradictory norms from ‘outside’ and, most painful of all, the betrayal of children by their protectors.”
— Financial Times
“[Amy and Lan] come of age playing unsupervised, feeling like the king and queen of an untouched utopia. But the real world encroaches on their idyll when long-buried fault lines shake the community, and Amy and Lan try to make sense of some very grown-up problems in their own childlike ways.” — Washington Post
“Things go south when entanglements between the adults start to draw their attention, and as Amy and Lan reach their early teenage years, these glimpses of grown-up life become an inescapable reality with devastating consequences. What at first reads as a deeply atmospheric bildungsroman, Amy and Lan quietly builds to a cautionary tale of the good life turned sour.” — Vogue Magazine "Best Books of 2022"
“Sadie Jones has written an emotional tale of how relationships go wrong, how they go right and the consequences of both. Don’t miss this powerful book.” — Book Reporter
“Sadie Jones is extraordinarily skilled at creating small worlds rife with hidden dramas… The years we are given with these unusual children are worth cherishing.” — Toronto Star
"Sadie Jones has written a beautiful, poignant novel . . . . Sadie Jones is a talented, successful novelist . . . . Amy and Lan demonstrates able mastery and understanding of the innermost thoughts of appealing, ordinary children. The leisurely pace may belie its power. Readers will be fully immersed in the world of Firth Farm." — Linda Hitchcock, Book Trib