THE RUBY IN HER NAVEL

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					                                   Praise for


                  LAND OF MARVELS
                                       by
                            Barry Unsworth

  ‘Unsworth has evidently done a great deal of historical, archaeological and
 geological research, but this has been woven seamlessly into the fabric of the
     novel so that the reader is caught up in the excitement of Somerville’s
  discoveries. Richly peopled, fast-moving, cleverly plotted, written with
 economy and elegance, this novel has the satisfying density and sweep of a
                      book twice its length.’ Sunday Times
                                        ♦

‘Unsworth's novel is assured, spare and well-researched, and the archaeological
                 details are expertly rendered.’ Daily Mail
                                       ♦

   ‘Unsworth is the most accomplished of novelists. All the characters are
  thoroughly imagined and ring true - even Jehar, convinced of the truth of his
   own lying rhetoric. As in all the best novels, characters reveal themselves in
speech - and we see them as they present themselves to others. The plot moves
faster as the novel gets into its stride. Unsworth, like Walter Scott, knows what
 is to be gained by an apparently languid introduction, scene-setting before the
   action takes over. He knows that credibility must first be established before
     action is significant. This is a cunningly put-together novel, in which the
  development of the plot advancing to an inexorable climax gains enormously
              from the deliberately leisurely opening.’ The Scotsman
                                           ♦

 ‘Tensions mount in the desert as spies and assassins join the cast of soldiers
        and archaeologists, and the story hurtles on towards its fiery
                      denouement.’ Evening Standard
                                      ♦
  ‘Though Unsworth's fiction is historical, its themes - mainly concerning the
   power of self-deception - are universal. The money men prove as prone to
   fantasy as the amateur historians. Economic empires are no safer than the
geographical sort. The American oil dream will change the lives of millions, but
  not entirely as our zealous prospector imagines. Idealists and self-interested
    cynics are equally prone to hubris. Both are dangerous to themselves and
others. If this makes Land of Marvels sound like a dry, worthy book, I must add
 that the septuagenarian Booker laureate wraps his dark themes around a
  plot full of adventure and romance. Rifles are fired, locks are broken and
      necks are kissed in the midnight desert. And although we may know
     how Mesopotamia's story ends, Unsworth's tale has the slow burn of a
professionally laid fuse burning towards an explosive finale.’ Daily Telegraph
                                         ♦

               'His prose is elegant and sure as ever.' Spectator
                                       ♦

‘Reading this novel is like watching an Olympic athlete about to win the gold:
the seamless flow of action, the mastery of technique, seemingly effortless yet
demanding attention and eliciting admiration as an end in itself. Not that Barry
Unsworth's writing is morally neutral, like pole-vaulting or a foot-race; the
book in fact bears a quite heavy burden of moral meaning. But the story is so
thoroughly adapted to expressing that meaning, so tightly organised, so
concentrated in its forward drive towards its goal, as to suggest t he athlete's
perfect indifference to anything outside the goal.’ The Guardian
                                        ♦

‘For the best part of three decades, Barry Unsworth has excelled at the kind of
 period novel that not only makes history live again but confirms the truth of
          William Faulkner's dictum: "The past is never dead. It's not
                      even past."’ The Independent Review
                                       ♦

      ‘Unsworth's considerable talents as a writer of historical fiction lie in
        his ability to bring his characters' desires into clear sight; to bring
life to the page; to strike a composition between his instinct for drama and his
                   intelligent feeling for irony.’ The Boston Globe
                                       ♦
   ‘It is tempting to refer to Barry Unsworth as a historical novelist, however,
more than simply being set in history, Unsworth’s fiction is often about history.
    It is concerned with the stories people tell about the past and their uneasy
 relationship to such stories. In Land of Marvels, his 16th novel, Unsworth once
again takes readers on a journey back to an earlier time: the spring of 1914. Th e
  action takes place in Tell Erdek, east of the Euphrates River, in the desert of
Mesopotamia. It is a scorching and resource-rich territory, nominally controlled
        by the Ottoman Empire, which in a few years will be known as Iraq.

  Land of Marvels could easily have become a morality tale about greed and
imperial ambitions. But Unsworth is too canny a storyteller for that. It is greed
                 that triumphs in the end.’ Evening Standard
                                        ♦

‘History is just a good story told by the winners; it is left to novelists
 and archaeologies to rediscover the losers’ viewpoint… Unsworth
   moves lightly between his characters… There’s a great deal of
 tension but the prose stays cool – partly because that’s Unsworth’s
way, and partly because he means to show us the value of the various
prizes they covet. Everyone wants to be a winner – after all, beneath
their feet, cracked and tarnished, lie the ornaments and bones of the
              defeated.’ Book of the Week, Time Out Magazine