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Review The Land of Decoration

Ein Roman so großherzig und unwiderstehlich dass er nur ein Wunder sein kann Menschen aus Pfeifenputzern Häuser aus Keksschachteln Wattewolken und ein Spiegelsee Die zehnjährige Judith hat sich in ihrem Zimmer eine kleine Welt geschaffen ganz für sich allein In der Schule wird sie gehänselt weil sie anders ist Now this is a strange one It begins wonderfully with a child invoking the story of creation of the world in seven days recorded in the book of Genesis as she creates her own model of the world I learned that her name was Judith That she was ten years old That her mother was dead and that her father was bringing her up on his own That he was a member of an Evangelical Christian sect that believed that the end of the world was nigh Judith was terribly isolated and sadly I was not at all surprised to learn that she was horribly bullied at school And so she created The Land of Decoration A model of her world ever detail carefully crafted from scraps and rubbish Sweet wrappers cotton wool cereal boxes tin foil egg boxes pipe cleaners I loved that creativity It brought light to a story with much darkness but before long I found that the darkness would overtake that light Judith made a discovery as she changed things in the Land of Decoration things changed in the real world She added in snow and a blanket of snow fell across the country unforecasted and completely out of season She added and it snowed again She took it away and the snow melted And then she heard the voice of God telling her that she could work miracles that she could change the world But could she And was the voice really God Judith found that simple actions could have unexpected conseuences and that events could spiral The story became darker and sinister Judith realised that she had lost control and struggled to regain it And her father poor man crumbled It s a strange story A strange story that uses its setting a small factory town in the seventies in the winter of discontent to wonderful effect Judith s voice comes through loud and clear She is naive she accepts her father s creed without uestion And she is bright but there is so much she doesn t understand But of course she doesn t realise that She doesn t understand her father s grief over the loss of his wife his doubts about his faith his struggles at work and with the neighbours and yet her clear sightedness illuminates them Both father and daughter are wonderful creations their interactions and their circumstances are so well drawn and I was intrigued by the way their relationship developed as the story unfolded The narrative felt awkward at times but short chapters make it easy to keep moving forward There was a lot maybe too much to think about The story of father and daughter his crisis of faith his crossing of picket lines at work her problems with bullies her developing relationship with a concerned teacher could easily have stood up on their own And the story of the Land of Decoration the voice of God and the miracles which was confusing in places might have come into sharper focus if it had been set against a simpler story But Grace McCleen threw everything into the air together and she created something uite uniue I had so many uestions and I had to keep turning the pages The one thing though that I must uestion is the age of the children often their behaviour and their attributes didn t tie up with the ages And maybe the world was just a little too small The ending was perfect It was nicely dramatic and it had just the right amount of ambiguity Not all of my uestions were answered but sometimes it is right that there are no answers that you have to make up your own mind And though it is not without problems it is lovely to be able to say that a debut novel is ambitious intriguing and original

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The Land of Decoration

Sich von der sündigen Welt fernhalten muss Ihr streng religiöser Vater hat kein Ohr für ihre Nöte die Mutter hat sie nie kennengelernt Vielleicht denkt Judith wenn ich es hier drinnen schneien lasse mit Rasierschaum Watte und Daunenfedern fällt am Montag die Schule aus Als sie am nächsten Tag die Vorhänge öf Every year there seems to be a book that stays with me long after I ve turned the last page And when someone asks me for a good book recommendation it s the first one that comes to mind The Land of Decoration a debut novel by Grace McCleen is one of those books Ten year old Judith McPherson lives in England with her father her mother having passed away She attends school but is bullied and isolated primarily because of the religious beliefs that she and her father follow And sometimes Judith escapes into her own little world one she has created in her room from rubbish There is a world in my room It is made from things no one else wanted and it is made with things that were my mother s that she left to me and it has taken most of my life to make She calls this world The Land of Decoration She has taken this name from the book of Ezekiel the land of milk and honey a paradise for the faithful in the afterlife The Promised Land For Judith it is where she will see her mother again When Judith transforms her Land of Decoration into a snow covered blizzard and it happens in reality she believes she is responsible Miracles happen because someone made them and because someone somewhere had faith And she s doubly sure she s responsible as God told her she was The bullying amplifies as does the unrest at the factory Judith s father works at And so does Judith s belief that she has the power to create miracles and change things And God s voice is getting louder I was so mesmerized by this book I couldn t read it straight through but had to put it down and come back later as my emotions were in a turmoil Judith s voice was heartbreaking in so many ways McCleen has created a character in Judith that just grabbed me and wouldn t let go I found myself stopping to ponder many of her views I wanted so badly to help her as she faced so much than a ten year old should McCleen s depictions of the other main players are just as well done Judith s father is another poignant portrayal that was difficult to accept and read at times McCleen s books explores so many themes love hate tolerance persecution belief faith and but ultimately is about the love between a parent and child I wonder how much of Judith s story is Grace s story She was raised in a fundamentalist religious environment and has a strong interest in miniatures as well I think readers are either going to love or hate McCleen s book much like Emma Donoghue s Room This reader loved it so did Emma Donoghue

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Fnet ist tatsächlich alles weiß Judith hat ihr erstes Wunder bewirkt Und damit fangen ihre Probleme erst richtig an Grace McCleen hat einen herzzerreißenden Roman über Gut und Böse Glaube und Zweifel über Liebe Verlust und Erlösung geschrieben mit einer bezaubernden jungen Heldin Ein Schicksal das tief bewegt This is a story of many parts encompassing the freuently fraught relationship between a father and his daughter set against a backdrop of manic religious fervour and the stress of strike action with a pinch of fantasy thrown in for good measure a heady mix indeedTen year old Judith McPherson leads a rather isolated life with her widowed father Their routine revolves around their strong religious conviction that the End Times are approaching fast but such faith won t be a match for the bullies at Judith s school or will it Could Judith s model of the Promised Land the Land of Decoration save her from the brutality of the real world Whilst Judith focuses on her own daily struggles her father is facing his demons too as he defies the union and joins the much hated scabs Previously held beliefs and certainties are shaken and torn apart as the McPhersons lives hurtle out of controlThere s no doubt about it this is an unusual novel At first it seems almost childlike in tone with our young narrator Judith concoting her imaginary Promised Land out of old sweetie wrappers and cotton wool However as the narrative develops the atmosphere becomes darker and sinister as Judith becomes and convinced of her miraculous powers It does get slightly confusing at times spoiling the reading experience somewhat but I guess this serves to mirror Judith s own distress and confusion of fantasy and realityWith hints of Jeanette Winterson s Oranges are Not the Only Fruit the religious extremism bits I found this a challenging strangely enjoyable read and a promising debut but not uite the miraculous masterpiece the blurb would have you believe


10 thoughts on “The Land of Decoration

  1. says:

    Reason for Reading Very intriguing plot captured my interestThis is a tough book to review I loved parts of it and disliked other parts of it Mainly I adored the main character 10yo Judith in whose voice the narrative is written She is naive and not always a reliable narrator but we are given events from her point of view

  2. says:

    Now this is a strange one It begins wonderfully with a child invoking the story of creation of the world in seven days recorded in the book of Genesis as she creates her own model of the world I learned that her name was Judith That she was ten

  3. says:

    The Land of Decoration is a first novel told in the voice of a young girl who has been brought up as a member of a religious sect; Grace McCleen is a young writer who was herself brought up in a similar environment Of course most authors draw deeply on personal life experiences as they write not surprising since writing about events and circumstances you know is likely to be easier and realistic However sometimes the pa

  4. says:

    One of my favourite books of last year was Among Others by Jo Walton in which a lonely teenage misfit struggles with her own self perceived at least ability to perform potentially harmful magic Grace McCleen's The Land of Decoration has a similar premise in some respects Narrator Judith who is bullied and ostracised at school and

  5. says:

    The Land of Decoration is a peculiar novel but peculiar in a good way I was so intrigued by the premise Judith is a ten year old girl who live

  6. says:

    Every year there seems to be a book that stays with me long after I've turned the last page And when someone asks me for a good book recommendation it's the first one that comes to mind The Land of Decoration a debut novel by Grace McCleen is o

  7. says:

    This is an exceptional debut novel that I could not stop reading in spite of the deep anguish and the maternal protection that the main character invoked in me until I reached the wrenching conclusionThe story is narrated

  8. says:

    This is a story of many parts encompassing the freuently fraught relationship between a father and his daughter set against a backdrop of manic religious fervour and the stress of strike action with a pinch of fantasy thrown in for good measure a heady mix indeedTen year old Judith McPherson leads a rather isolated life with her widowed father Their routine revolves around their strong religious conviction that the End Times are

  9. says:

    This book didn't work at all for me It had no sense of time or place could have been the seventies could have been Wales or somewhere North with hills The joyless religious sect stifling the lives of Judith and her father reminded m

  10. says:

    The Land of Decoration from the Book of Ezekiel is a better world the promised land the way 10 year old Judith McPherson wishes the world to be It's a world Judith has created from the junk she finds and the reader can see her creation beginn