Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

Reviews of Clear by Carys Davies

Clear

A Novel

by Carys Davies

Clear by Carys Davies X
Clear by Carys Davies
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Apr 2024, 208 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Alex Russell
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A stunning, exquisite novel from an award-winning writer about a minister dispatched to a remote island off of Scotland to "clear" the last remaining inhabitant, who has no intention of leaving—an unforgettable tale of resilience, change, and hope.

John, an impoverished Scottish minister, has accepted a job evicting the lone remaining occupant of an island north of Scotland—Ivar, who has been living alone for decades, with only the animals and the sea for company. Though his wife, Mary, has serious misgivings about the errand, he decides to go anyway, setting in motion a chain of events that neither he nor Mary could have predicted.

Shortly after John reaches the island, he falls down a cliff and is found, unconscious and badly injured, by Ivar who takes him home and tends to his wounds. The two men do not speak a common language, but as John builds a dictionary of Ivar's world, they learn to communicate and, as Ivar sees himself for the first time in decades reflected through the eyes of another person, they build a fragile, unusual connection.

Unfolding in the 1840s in the final stages of the infamous Scottish Clearances—which saw whole communities of the rural poor driven off the land in a relentless program of forced evictions—this singular, beautiful, deeply surprising novel explores the differences and connections between us, the way history shapes our deepest convictions, and how the human spirit can survive despite all odds. Moving and unpredictable, sensitive and spellbinding, Clear is a profound and pleasurable read.

Coming soon

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Ivar has lived alone for decades; the Highland Clearances, a series of mass evictions that began a century earlier, have already forced his family from the land. But if Scottish history would have him for another victim, Clear deftly upends the usual narrative. Soon after arrival, John slips on the craggy coastline; Ivar, discovering his unconscious body, takes it upon himself to patch the minister up. An obsession with language drives this slim yet gripping novel. Ivar speaks Norn, an island relative of Danish and Norwegian on the brink of extinction. To John, it's a language uniquely suited to the unforgiving surroundings; what he would call simply "a rough sea," Ivar terms "skreul," "pulter," or "yog," depending on the peculiarities of the roughness. Language is an apt theme for an author who wields it so masterfully. Clear's chapters, each a brief, poetic vignette, are lessons in what can be achieved with spare, finely-wrought sentences. Davies is a writer with a painter's sensibility. Like the best landscape paintings, her scenes are precise in their detail and expansive in their scope; and like the best landscape painters, she has a rare sensitivity to the natural world...continued

Full Review Members Only (658 words)

(Reviewed by Alex Russell).

Media Reviews

Vogue
[A] gripping novel from Welsh novelist Carys Davis, Clear...feels a bit like a thriller set against a history lesson rendered fantastically vivid...raising questions of belonging, ownership, and how we forge the bonds between people and place that are really durable.

Times (London)
[Davies] writes epics in miniature…a tender, humane book.

Booklist (starred review)
Spare and beautiful…A concise and haunting novel of souls anchored to the consequences of willfully circumscribed lives.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
With her characteristically buoyant prose and brisk sense of plotting, Davies crafts a humane tale about individuals struggling to maintain dignity beneath competing systems of disenfranchisement...A deft and graceful yarn about language, love, and rebellion against the inhumane forces of history.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
A minister's conscience is tested in the perceptive and beautiful latest from Davies...[she] cranks a great deal of tension into the economical plot...[E]ach page blooms with wondrous descriptions of the untamed highlands...This is divine.

Author Blurb Annie Proulx, author of Barkskins
This intriguing and inventive story escorts the reader to an unexpectedly joyous ending that hints at our contemporary interest in new ideas of what a family might be. The writing style is one of clarity and reserved sensibility punctuated with an end-game needle jab. Not to be missed.

Author Blurb Anthony Doerr, author of All the Light We Cannot See and Cloud Cuckoo Land
Clear is a compact, taut and brilliant novel with an ingenious premise: one man is sent to evict another from his land, but suddenly requires the second man's aid. Everything gets more complicated from there. The book is about belonging, a dying language, secrets, and a pistol in a box. I loved every page.

Author Blurb Hernan Diaz, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Trust and In the Distance
The sheer beauty of Clear—with its perfect sentences, its austere tenderness, and its quiet sense of disquiet—feels timeless ... A poignant, profound depiction of both solitude and connection. Carys Davies has written a masterful, discreetly sublime book.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

The Highland Clearances

Photo of the Emigrants statue, commemorating Highlands and Islands people who left Scotland in the Clearances and depicting a kilted father and son advancing while the mother looks back, with dark cloudy sky and green slopes visible in background In Clear, the third novel from Carys Davies, an impoverished presbyterian minister reluctantly takes part in the Highland Clearances, a series of mass evictions that took place in the north of Scotland between 1750 and 1850, driven in part by the restructuring of British society during the Industrial Revolution and the collapse of the traditional clan system that had for centuries governed Highland life. The impact on Scotland was profound—and the aftershocks still felt to this day. As the historian Tom Devine has written, the events have become "firmly embedded in the cultural identity of the nation."

The Clearances broadly took place over two waves. During the first, which lasted from around 1750 to 1815, Highland landowners ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Clear, try these:

We have 4 read-alikes for Clear, but non-members are limited to two results. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
More books by Carys Davies
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Glorious Exploits
    Glorious Exploits
    by Ferdia Lennon
    Lampo and Gelon are two unemployed potters in their thirties whose lives are spent between their ...
  • Book Jacket: Song of the Six Realms
    Song of the Six Realms
    by Judy I. Lin
    Xue'er has no place in the kingdom of Qi or any of the Six Realms. Her name means "Solitary Snow" ...
  • Book Jacket: The Demon of Unrest
    The Demon of Unrest
    by Erik Larson
    In the aftermath of the 1860 presidential election, the divided United States began to collapse as ...
  • Book Jacket: Daughters of Shandong
    Daughters of Shandong
    by Eve J. Chung
    Daughters of Shandong is the debut novel of Eve J. Chung, a human rights lawyer living in New York. ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Romantic Comedy
by Curtis Sittenfeld
A comedy writer's stance on love shifts when a pop star challenges her assumptions in this witty and touching novel.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    This Strange Eventful History
    by Claire Messud

    An immersive, masterful story of a family born on the wrong side of history.

  • Book Jacket

    The Stolen Child
    by Ann Hood

    An unlikely duo ventures through France and Italy to solve the mystery of a child’s fate.

Win This Book
Win Only the Brave

Only the Brave by Danielle Steel

A powerful, sweeping historical novel about a courageous woman in World War II Germany.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

F T a T

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.