books > The Claude Glass
256pp original paperback
the claude glass
by tom bullough
“Immensely powerful and evocative - this portrayal of life in rural Wales through the eyes of children is convincing and magical.” VICTORIA HISLOP
Set in the Welsh Borders in 1980, The Claude Glass charts an unlikely friendship between two neighbours; Robin, the seven-year-old son of English hippie sheep farmers, and Andrew, a child so neglected by his impoverished parents that he is left almost mute, seeking solace among the farm dogs.
Exploring his parentís semi-derelict farmhouse, Andrew finds an antique convex mirror – a Claude Glass – and, gazing into it, the two boys see their wild, rural landscape strangely ordered. But this comforting vision proves fragile as tensions and sexual jealousy rock the adult world around them.
Written with a lyricism and freshness that echoes the early work of Esther Freud or Bruce Chatwin, The Claude Glass draws you into the lives of its startling characters and their tarnished romance with nature.
“Written with a poet’s sensibility and eye for telling detail, this novel about the difficulties of comprehending otherness has a lyrical intensity. The Claude Glass, discovered by the boys, is a convex mirror that distorts one’s perception of the landscape – a perfect metaphor for this exquisitely written slice of rural ‘dirty realism’. (4/5)” Mail on Sunday
“This is a novel of compelling complexity of thought and feeling, sustained by the authenticity of its rich detail. A sheep’s agony in labour, a moribund tractor – Bullough endows the components of his scene with a poet’s sense of their quiddity and a novelist’s appreciation of their human significance.”
“This often unnerving tale of romanticism suffocating beneath the weight of flinty pragmatism shows Bullough to be a very gifted writer indeed. In Andrew, he’s created a truly memorable fictional character, but a word of warning: books rarely end as heartbreakingly as this one. (5/5)” Independent on Sunday