To the casual outsider, Hill Farm is a rural idyll and the perfect retreat from urban life. Yet beneath the tranquil surface lie discontent, desire and death-watch beetles.
Farmer Hayes loves the land - but hates farming. His neglected wife Isabel adores her three children, but is temperamentally unsuited to life as a wife and mother. The Smith sisters have not spoken to one another for forty years, farm-hand Mikey dabbles in pyromania, while neighbour Mr Payne has fled the city, only to find a greater threat to his karma in the hedgerows of Middle England. And after one incendiary summer, all of their lives will be different...
Originally published with the title Hill Farm
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Beautifully rendered, the shifting inner lives of the characters are subtle and believable and the fresh, sometimes subversive observation is a delight - Sunday Times
Miranda France writes skillfully and with a wry touch... That Summer at Hill Farm is a pleasure to read, tempting the reader to wolf it down in one - Sunday Herald
An arresting writer...France's account of village life conveys a genuine, smoldering anger... Adultery, arson and assault - all come bursting out - Guardian
Pyromaniac labourers, feuding pensioners and adulterous housewives blot the landscape in Miranda France's entertaining novel, a sort of homage to Cold Comfort Farm, with a dash of Jilly Cooper and The Archers thrown in - Financial Times
With an incredible confidence for a debut novelist, Miranda France changes tack from rural romance to murder mystery...[she] writes with such assurance and humour that she carries us along...through the subtle underpinning of her characterization - Spectator
Reads like The Archers written by Tolstoy...This debut novel from a well-known travel scribe twists coming-of-age drama with Karenina-esque sensual discovery, and perfectly captures the more Gothic aspects of country life - Daily Mail
Miranda France has minutely drawn a farming community, and a broken woman, with excellent skill. She is superb at plucking comedy from tragedy, as well as exhibiting a wry authorial narrative that must owe more than a little to Jane Austen. She manages to square this lightness of tone with a subtle tale full of secrecy, betrayal and fear that keeps you clinging on right to the very end - The List
A convincing depiction of the way in which ordinary lives can be nudged towards quiet tragedy - Literary Review
France writes superbly about the reality of living in the countryside - and the pitch-black ending chills the blood. - Saga Magazine
It's impossible to avoid comparisons with Stella Gibbons...But Miranda France's debut novel is set in modern-day Sussex and she has drawn on her farming roots to a paint a picture of bucolic pastures. - Sussex Life
Immensely clever unearthing of rural life and love - Sainsbury's Magazine
A clear-eyed, wise and subtle debut novel from a novelist to watch. Miranda France´s depiction of a vanishing rural Britain is packed with characters and events that ring coruscatingly true. - Liz Jensen
There is so much to admire in this novel: authorial eloquence, sly wit and the multi-faceted evocation of a rural community. - David Lodge
Miranda France grew up on a farm not unlike Hill Farm. She is the author of two highly acclaimed travel books, Bad Times in Buenos Aires and Don Quixote's Delusions but this is her first novel. She has won the Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize and was shortlisted for the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award. She now lives in London with her husband and two children.