English Arcadia by Simon Petherick. Fiction, published 30 November 2018.
Available from Amazon here.
In June 2017, after a self-imposed absence of twenty-five years, Darius Frome returns to the family home, an imposing Lutyens mansion towering above the Thames in Buckinghamshire. The grandson of maverick political aristocrat Sir Zachary Frome and his successful novelist wife Felicity Drummond, Darius is unsettled to discover the house of his childhood riven with discord. Spanning a century of idealistic left-wing aspiration, English Arcadia delves into the depths of family rivalry, political ambition and personal tragedy, set against ancient themes of the natural world.
Read a sample of the opening chapters here.
‘A spellbinding story that skilfully charts the disintegration of three generations of an English family following a horrific event at the bottom of an idyllic English garden. I was gripped from the first page.’
Michael Ridpath, author of The Wanderer
From the novel’s Afterword, written by Simon Petherick:
‘In 1988, I travelled to Devon to interview Sir Richard Acland in his house which stood on the lands of the Killerton Estate which he himself had given to the National Trust in 1944. He was 82 at the time and graciously agreed to be interviewed by me on the subject of his latest book, Hungry Sheep, an attack on the individualistic political philosophy he identified in all contemporary parties. He was a truly remarkable man: in the 1940s, he led Common Wealth, the ultra-left wing political party which won byelections against both Conservative and Labour oppositions only to founder with the Labour landslide of 1945; in the 1950s, with Harold Wilson, he formed War On Want and subsequently championed Harrison Brown’s seminal green document, A Challenge for the Future. In later years, in his own words, he believed that “good causes will founder and evil causes will prevail unless moral and religious forces are brought in on the side of the good.”
‘I have thought about this decent, determined, kind and intelligent man for thirty years since that meeting, which is perhaps why he has served as the inspiration for the fictional character Sir Zachary Frome in this novel. The novel and the characters portrayed in it are entirely fictitious and the extended Frome family bear no relation to any people alive or dead, but I would simply like to express my thanks to Sir Richard Acland for indulging a curious young man all that time ago with such sincerity and humour.’
Download an Information Sheet from the publishers about the book here.
A little more information on this blogpost here.
Buy the book from Amazon here. If you’d rather use another retailer, just give them the ISBN code 9780957629462 and publisher name The Word Machine and they can get hold of it for you. Or contact me.