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The Year Without Summer: 1816 - one event, six lives, a world changed

Guinevere Glasfurd

8 Reviews

Rated 0

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945), Historical fiction, Climate change

A supervolcanic explosion in 1815 led to the extraordinary 'Year Without Summer' in 1816 - a massive climate disruption causing famine, poverty, rebellion, and lives (both ordinary and privileged) to be changed forever. Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, John Constable's paintings changed, crops failed, food riots broke out, and snow fell in August.

'A STRIKINGLY SHARP AND SUBTLE WRITER' Guardian
'SUPERB...BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN...UNFORGETTABLE' FT Weekend
'SKILFUL' Sunday Times
'RICH, INTRICATE, IMPRESSIVELY REALISED' Observer
'VIVIDLY REALISED' The Times
'A VISION OF THE PAST AND A VISION OF THE FUTURE' Irish Times

'A VIVID SLICE OF HISTORICAL FICTION' Sunday Express

1815, Sumbawa Island, Indonesia
Mount Tambora explodes in a cataclysmic eruption, killing thousands. Sent to investigate, ship surgeon Henry Hoggcan barely believe his eyes. Once a paradise, the island is now solid ash, the surrounding sea turned to stone. But worse is yet to come: as the ash cloud rises and covers the sun, the seasons will fail.

1816
In Switzerland, Mary Shelley finds dark inspiration. Confined inside by the unseasonable weather, thousands of famine refugees stream past her door. In Vermont, preacher Charles Whitlock begs his followers to keep faith as drought dries their wells and their livestock starve.

In Suffolk, the ambitious and lovesick painter John Constable struggles to reconcile the idyllic England he paints with the misery that surrounds him. In the Fens, farm labourer Sarah Hobbs has had enough of going hungry while the farmers flaunt their wealth. And Hope Peter, returned from the Napoleonic wars, finds his family home demolished and a fence gone up in its place. He flees to London, where he falls in with a group of revolutionaries who speak of a better life, whatever the cost. As desperation sets in, Britain becomes beset by riots - rebellion is in the air.

The Year Without Summer is the story of the books written, the art made; of the journeys taken, of the love longed for and the lives lost during that fateful year. Six separate lives, connected only by an event many thousands of miles away. Few had heard of Tambora - but none could escape its effects.

'VIVID, VIBRANT, HARD TO PUT DOWN' Hilary Spurling
'THOUGHT-PROVOKING, BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN AND VERY COMPELLING' Harriet Tyce
'INGENIOUS AND ABSORBING' Kirsty Wark
'ASTONISHING, RIVETING, MASTERFUL, POETIC' Emily Rapp Black
'A WORLDWIDE CANVAS BROUGHT TO LIFE IN VIVID, HEARTBREAKING DETAIL' Marianne Kavanagh

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Praise for The Year Without Summer: 1816 - one event, six lives, a world changed

  • Guinevere Glasfurd's follow-up to her 2016 Costa-shortlisted debut The Words in My Hand is another superb saga, rich in both historical detail and human interest . . . [Glasfurd] combines her intricate storyline with an impressively realised sense of a world being dragged into the modern age - Observer

  • Superb . . . a stay-up-all-night page-turner . . . a beautifully written, angry, unflinching and unforgettable novel. - Financial Times

  • Vividly realised . . . this second novel does not disappoint - The Times

  • Glasfurd is a strikingly sharp and subtle writer who finds beauty in the bleakest situations. She has the rare ability to conjure characters vividly in a few deft strokes and the gift, rarer still, of making us care deeply about them . . . an angry and tender interrogation of tangibly real lives . . . Glasfurd's hard-hitting admonition deserves to find its mark. - The Guardian

  • Glasfurd is a skilful writer and the book offers much to enjoy - Sunday Times

  • A rich, well-written, and entirely convincing work of historical fiction. Each story adds a dimension to the exploration of climate disaster across social class and geography ... in The Year Without Summer we are offered both a vision of the past and a vision of the future - Irish Times

  • A vivid slice of historical fiction - Sunday Express

  • Guinevere Glasfurd's ingenious and absorbing storytelling brought both the very human and epic impact of the world's worst volcanic catastrophe to life in an indelible way that brings the past right into the present - Kirsty Wark, author of THE LEGACY OF ELIZABETH PRINGLE

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Guinevere Glasfurd

Guinevere Glasfurd was born in Lancaster and lives near Cambridge with her husband and daughter.

Her debut novel, The Words in My Hand, was shortlisted for the 2016 Costa First Novel Award and Authors' Club Best First Novel Award and was longlisted in France for the Prix du Roman FNAC.

The Year Without Summer was written with support from the MacDowell Colony Foundation. Awarded grants from the Arts Council England and the British Council for her novels, her writing has also appeared in the Scotsman, Mslexia and The National Galleries of Scotland.

She is currently working on her third novel, a story of the Enlightenment, set in eighteenth-century England and France.

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