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A Month in the Country By J.L. Carr, Michael Holroyd (Introduction by) Cover Image

A Month in the Country (Paperback)

By J.L. Carr, Michael Holroyd (Introduction by)
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Staff Reviews


On the face of it nothing much happens in this novella but, if you’re willing to let this book wrap itself around you like a cozy blanket, you won’t be disappointed. At the start of the book we find the main protagonist, Tom Birkin, a World War I veteran, in Oxgodby, a remote (and fictional) English village. His mission there is to restore a recently discovered medieval mural in the local church and, as you turn the pages, we watch him slowly reckoning with the trauma of the war. And, once you’ve bought this book and started your collection of New York Review Classics, you won’t want to stop adding to your NYRB collection! ~Heather

— From Heather


A short, spellbinding novel about a WWI veteran finding a way to re-enter—and fully embrace—normal life while spending the summer in an idyllic English village.  

In J. L. Carr's deeply charged poetic novel, Tom Birkin, a veteran of the Great War and a broken marriage, arrives in the remote Yorkshire village of Oxgodby where he is to restore a recently discovered medieval mural in the local church. Living in the bell tower, surrounded by the resplendent countryside of high summer, and laboring each day to uncover an anonymous painter's depiction of the apocalypse, Birkin finds that he himself has been restored to a new, and hopeful, attachment to life. But summer ends, and with the work done, Birkin must leave. Now, long after, as he reflects on the passage of time and the power of art, he finds in his memories some consolation for all that has been lost.

About the Author

James Lloyd Carr was born in 1912 and attended the village school at Carlton Miniott in Yorkshire. A head teacher, publisher, and novelist, his books include A Day in Summer (1964); A Season in Sinji (1967); The Harpole Report (1972); How Steeple Sinderby Wanderers Won the FA Cup (1975); A Month in the Country (1980), which won the Guardian Fiction Prize and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize; The Battle of Pollock’s Crossing (1985), also shortlisted for the the Booker Prize; What Hetty Did(1988); and Harpole & Foxberrow General Publishers (1992). He died in Northhamptonshire in 1994.

Michael Holroyd is the author of acclaimed biographies of Lytton Strachey, Bernard Shaw, and Augustus John. He has also written a memoir, Basil Street Blues. He lives in London with his wife, the writer Margaret Drabble.

Praise For…

"Unlike anything else in modern English Literature." — The Spectator

"Carr’s blessedly small tale of lost love is also a small hymn about art and the compensating joy of the artist, both in giving and receiving. It stays with us, too, and is oddly haunting." — The New Yorker

“Amazingly beautiful: so perfect, so exquisite! …The nuance and small moments that make up this gorgeous little novella are breathtaking, and the quiet, spare story will completely invade you. Brilliant!” —Dianah H, Powell’s City of Books blog  

"Carr has the magic touch to re-enter the imagined past." — Penelope Fitzgerald

"The work is virtually perfect, and written with a great deal of liveliness and wit." —Michael Wood

"A unique and special experience, a visit to a special time and place, deeply observed and portrayed in beautiful prose." — The Washington Post

"Carr’s prose is spare, elegant and buoyed with wit; the idyllic countryside and its inhabitants are rendered in affectionate detail." — Publisher’s Weekly

"A Month in the Country…is one of those perfect, precious novels that you want to loan to friends, buy all your relatives for Christmas and give to your latest paramour." — Eve Claxton, Time Out New York

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9780940322479
ISBN-10: 0940322471
Publisher: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: October 31st, 2000
Pages: 160
Language: English
Series: New York Review Books Classics