Hame: Book summary and reviews of Hame by Annalena McAfee

Hame

by Annalena McAfee

Hame by Annalena McAfee X
Hame by Annalena McAfee
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  • Published in USA  Sep 2017
    592 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

A rich, sultry, ambitious novel about a young American writer/curator, fleeing a crumbling marriage in New York who travels with her nine-year old daughter to one of the remote islands in the north of Scotland, birthplace of her grandfather.

Commissioned to set up a museum there and to write the biography of the island's celebrated poet and chronicler, Mhairi McPhail is slowly drawn in by the complicated life she is uncovering and writing about- the Bard of Fascaray - as she finds herself being transformed, awakened by the ferocity and power of the island.

Who was the celebrated poet, Grigor McWatt, The Bard of Fascaray? What was his past? Details of his life are elusive. As Mhairi struggles to adapt to her island life and put her disappointment and troubles behind her, she begins to unearth the astonishing secret history of the poet, regarded by many as the custodian of Fascaray's - and Scotland's - soul.

In McAfee's rich novel of invented island life, she interweaves extracts from Mhairi's journal entries, her discoveries and writings of McWatt, and tales of Fascaray itself into a resonant, compelling, dimensional narrative that at its heart explores identity, love, belonging and the universal quest for home.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"While it's easy to envision diverse readers attracted to this book, it's difficult to imagine any reader who isn't skimming over vast swathes of the very, very, very long text. Impressive worldbuilding, but to what end?" - Kirkus

"The novel can be tough going for anyone not fascinated by and knowledgeable about all things Scottish." - Publishers Weekly

"With its complex, multi-layered structure, Hame is an impressive achievement ... It shines a light on an artistic scene which produced some of Scotland's greatest poets of the last century." - Will Gore, Evening Standard

"It's not that the novel is too ambitious. The scale of the project is managed and the book is well put together. But rather, the lofty subject does not match up with McAfee's casual literary style, so suited to her 2011 debut, Spoiler, a newsroom satire. This is a shame, because so much imaginative vision has gone into this rich fictional microclimate. And, misgivings aside, I was sad to go home after." - The Financial Times, Jonathan McAloon

"A remarkable performance, and one that should sit nicely on the same shelf as Robin Jenkins' Fergus Lamont and James Robertson's And the Land Lay Still, all three reflections on the past and present state of Scottish literary and political culture. And what fun Annalena McAfee must have had concocting McWatt's verses." - Allan Massie, i: The Paper for Today

"Hame is a sweet and quaint novel, full of just-in-time revelations and obvious fondness." - Stuart Kelly, The Guardian

"Annalena's novel Hame is madly, wildly, almost extravagantly inventive, as if each passing page is seeking to outdo the previous one. This is story-telling of the highest ingenuity, brimming with whimsy, wit, erudition, and beautiful sentences. Brilliant and irresistible." - Christopher Buckley, author of The Relic Master

"I enjoyed it immensely. I laughed a lot. The character of Fascaray, its people and history, its weather and sea, and of Grigor and his glorious translations, all are imagined with such great verve and humor and originality, I couldn't put it down, or not for very long. I talk it up wherever I go. Wonderful novel." - Patrick McGrath, author of Constance

"I was knocked out by this novel. It is rich and layered, passionate and sly...I am filled with admiration for this novel. This Fascaray, I wanted to go there." - James Magnuson, author of Famous Writers I Have Known

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Reader Reviews

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Maureen C.

If you are into very descriptive....
If you are into very descriptive novels, you'll probably love this book. Just not my thing. I enjoyed the chapters that dealt with the main character and her story. I understand the descriptive "history" chapters set the stage, but they were a bit boring, too lengthy.

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Author Information

Annalena McAfee

Annalena McAfee was born in London and educated at Essex University. She is the author of The Spoiler and eight children's books. She worked at the London Evening Standard as a drama critic and arts editor and at the Financial Times as Arts & Books editor. She was the founding editor of The Guardian's literary supplement, The Guardian Review. McAfee has edited a collection of literary profiles from The Guardian titled Lives and Works and is the author of eight children's books. She has been a judge of the Orange Prize for Fiction, the South Bank Show Awards and the Ben Pimlott Prize for political writing. She lives in London with her husband, the writer Ian McEwan.

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