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The Quickening Maze by Adam Foulds
  

The Quickening Maze

Historical Fiction   All Shortlists and Winners   Literary Fiction   Reading Groups   eBook Favourites   eBook Favourites   

RRP £12.99

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Shortlisted for the inaugural Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction 2010.

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2009.

A fictionalised account of an asylum on the edge of Epping Forest where the poet John Clare spent some time. Tennyson visits the asylum adding that extra sense of reality but it is the story of the doctor Matthew Allen and his humane care for the patients in a time where such care was rare that makes this novel a pleasure to read.


The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. This remarkable book was inspired by the incarceration of poet John Clare in an asylum in Epping Forest around 1840. The author brilliantly captures the mood of early Victorian England where there was so much certainty and the mind could be conquered, just like the globe; a world still medieval for many but excitingly modern for others.
~ Anthony Lafferty

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Synopsis

The Quickening Maze by Adam Foulds

Based on real events in Epping Forest on the edge of London around 1840, The Quickening Maze centres on the first incarceration of the great nature poet John Clare. After years struggling with alcohol, critical neglect and depression, Clare finds himself in High Beach Private Asylum – an institution run on reformist principles which would later become known as occupational therapy. At the same time another poet, the young Alfred Tennyson, moves nearby and becomes entangled in the life and catastrophic schemes of the asylum's owner, the peculiar, charismatic Dr Matthew Allen.

For John Clare, a man who had grown up steeped in the freedoms and exhilarations of nature, who thought ‘the edge of the world was a day’s walk away’, a locked door is a kind of death. This intensely lyrical novel describes his vertiginous fall, through hallucinatory episodes of insanity and dissolving identity, towards his final madness.

Historically accurate, but brilliantly imagined, the closed world of High Beach and its various inmates – the doctor, his lonely daughter in love with Tennyson, the brutish staff and John Clare himself – are brought vividly to life. Outside the walls is Nature, and Clare’s paradise: the birds and animals, the gypsies living in the forest; his dream of home, of redemption, of escape. Rapturous yet precise, exquisitely written, rich in character and detail, this is a remarkable and deeply affecting book: a visionary novel which contains a world.

Reviews

Impressive ... The key to this success is the concentration of Fould's writing, which manages to seem both simultaneously poised and flowing in its urgency -- Andrew Motion The Guardian In The Quickening Maze, Foulds displays in abundance the same kind of precision of observation and empathy of imagination that he gives here to Clare...The world he evokes...is conjured up with remarkable intensity and economy of means. It is impossible to guess where Foulds will travel next in his fiction, but it is safe to assume that the journey with him will be well worth taking -- Nick Rennison The Sunday Times The language is simple, sometimes adorned with fleeting and apt images: the sky is 'cloud-breeding', summer clouds are 'curds
Phillip Womack Literary Review The chief pleasure of the book is its prose: exquisite yet measured

, precise, attentive to the world -- Neel Murkerjee Sunday Telegraph Fould's exceptional novel is like a lucid dream: earthy and true, but shifting, metamorphic - the word-perfect fruit of a poet's sharp eye and noevlist's limber reach -- Tom Gatti The Times


About the Author

Adam Foulds was born in 1974 and lives in south London. He is a graduate of the Creative Writing MA at the University of East Anglia and his poetry has appeared in a number of literary magazines. His first novel, The Truth About These Strange Times, was published in 2007.

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Book Info

Publication date

7th May 2009

Author

Adam Foulds

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Publisher

Jonathan Cape Ltd an imprint of Vintage

Format

Hardback
272 pages

Categories

Historical Fiction
All Shortlists and Winners
Literary Fiction
Reading Groups
eBook Favourites
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

ISBN

9780224087469

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