Read The Barrowfields by Phillip Lewis Online


A richly textured coming-of-age story about fathers and sons, home and family, recalling classics by Thomas Wolfe and William Styron, by a powerful new voice in fictionJust before Henry Aster’s birth, his father—outsized literary ambition and pregnant wife in tow—reluctantly returns to the small Appalachian town in which he was raised and installs his young family in an imA richly textured coming-of-age story about fathers and sons, home and family, recalling classics by Thomas Wolfe and William Styron, by a powerful new voice in fictionJust before Henry Aster’s birth, his father—outsized literary ambition and pregnant wife in tow—reluctantly returns to the small Appalachian town in which he was raised and installs his young family in an immense house of iron and glass perched high on the side of a mountain. There, Henry grows up under the writing desk of this fiercely brilliant man. But when tragedy tips his father toward a fearsome unraveling, what was once a young son’s reverence is poisoned and Henry flees, not to return until years later when he, too, must go home again. Mythic in its sweep and mesmeric in its prose, The Barrowfields is a breathtaking debut about the darker side of devotion, the limits of forgiveness, and the reparative power of shared pasts....

Title : The Barrowfields
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780451495648
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 368 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Barrowfields Reviews

  • Angela M
    2018-11-29 21:36

    4.5 stars - revising this as of 3/31/17 to 5 stars.This is one of those books where I knew from the first page, actually the first line that I would love the writing. Subtle, quiet at first, but then just amazingly descriptive writing that brings you to this place, this small town called Old Buckram in NC and this house on the side of the mountain. A house that was a family's with a tragic past, but it's not their tragedy that is front and center - it's the tragedies that we experience in the Aster family who come to live in the house. Henry Aster, the narrator drew me in immediately telling the story of his father, also named Henry who grew up in this small Appalachian town where pretty much no one reads except him. I loved hearing how as a child his father "stole" hundreds of books from the school library and when asked what was he going to do with all of these books , he simply replied , "I planned to read them." And read he does ! His love of literature is depicted in all of the books he has read and in his struggle to write one of his own. I loved how much books and reading were a part of this story. Some of my favorite scenes were young Henry reading each night to his younger sister Threnody. This is a book lovers story in so many ways. I don't know much about classical music, but the music that both Henry and his father play on the piano is a big part of the story too. But the life there is not all tranquil with music and books. There is death and tragedy and much sadness. The first half of the book was more introspective, more serious, sadder than the middle where Henry goes to college, then law school, running from things that happened that are not clear until towards the end of the book. The middle part felt mundane compared to the beginning - the drinking and partying hiding what was really going on in Henry's head and heart. He has abandoned his old life and while doing so abandons his family, especially his sister. I could hardly wait for him to go back home. I loved the writing, the characters, how I felt as if I were in this town and this house. Lewis expertly gives us such a sense of place here! I loved everything about it even though there was so much heart ache. This is about home and family bonds that are broken and dreams that are never fully realized and about the tragic impact of alcohol and depression. Yet, with all of that, there is hope. My final thought was - wow - this is a debut novel? I just can't say enough how much I was impressed with this beautiful prose and can hardly wait to see what he writes next .Note: this is an article written by the author reflecting on the autobiographical nature of this book. I read it after I finished the book and would suggest that if you read the book wait until you are finished. I received an advanced copy of this book from Hogarth/Crown through NetGalley.

  • Melissa ♥ Dog Lover ♥ Martin
    2018-11-12 21:18

    The story starts out reeling me right in from the descriptions of the old town rolling up the streets early. Not many people living there. North Carolina in the 1930's. There is just something about old towns I love. Most of the people lived up in the mountains or in little houses or shacks. So, I thought this was going to be it, a wonderful story about a town and the people in the blurb. Well, it's a little more complicated. Henry, the son is telling the story. He talks about when his father was young and his grandparents. To be honest I wasn't sure when they would get to the part about him and his sister and all of the other stuff. Henry tells of how his mother and father met and for the life of me I don't know how in the world they fell in love. You would have to read about the elder Henry in order to understand what I mean. Henry's father brings his mother back to Old Buckram to live close to his parents because his mom isn't doing so good. He moves them into the creepy black house on the side of the mountain. But there is room below for her horses, so it's all good. This is where little Henry is born and later his sister Threnody. This house has a dark past and no one ever found out what happened. There were parents and three children that lived there. One day the town found the parents dead and the children dead and buried so it's never been an easy house to sell. Nothing ever comes of that so if your thinking ghost story, don't. I was hoping but it didn't happen. The children's father up and leaves them one day and never returns. I'm not going to tell you what happens to him. You find out later in the book. Something devastating happens that pushes him over the edge, so he leaves Henry and Threnody and their mom. I'm not going to tell you what that is either. But, elder Henry had many problems. He was a lawyer in the little town to keep money coming in but all he ever wanted was to write a book. He was a professor at one time, but the left all of that behind when they moved back to his home town. He never seemed happy and he never seemed to finish this book he has worked on his whole life . . . or did he? This is a coming of age story about little Henry growing up with all of this tragedy and leaving his mom and sister to go to college. I was upset that he barely had any contact with them. He lived his life doing what he did and working. He eventually became a lawyer like his father even though that's not what he went to school for, he seemed to be following in his father's footsteps. Henry meets a sweet girl named Story who has her own demons to fight. She comes into Henry's life at a moment I think he needed her most. It had just been Henry and Buller, his dog for a bit. I felt that Story helped him open up and get closer to Threnody again. Did I mention Henry, his dad and Threnody loved reading too! A+ guys. Anyway, I enjoyed the book more than I thought I would. It's very sad and there are dark times, BUT, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. *I received a print copy of this book through BloggingForBooks.*MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List

  • Diane S ☔
    2018-12-05 23:25

    As soon as I started reading I was intrigued and pulled into the story. The house, this gorgeous, spooky sounding house, a house with a tragic past, now home to a young Henry, his sister Threnody, mom and dad, Henry the elder. A man in love with literature, music, wanting desperately to write an outstanding novel, put meaningful words on paper. The gorgeous sounding library, with a huge amount of books, a house with nooks and crannies to get lost in, sitting on top of a mountain in a small Appalachian town. House envy, house lust. A house that will soon hold an inordinate amount of sadness, tragedy. Gothic tones, characteristics abound. The Barrowfields, a place where nothing grows, nothing thrives.Then the tone changes, the pace changes, and Henry escaping sorrow, things he doesn't understand, goes off to college, leaving his younger sister behind. The sister he read to, sang to, was basically a father stand in. A sister to which he made many promises. Less gothic, typical college experiences, drinking, parties, a girl he falls for and he becomes embroiled in someone else's life, problems, father issues. Not sure how I felt about this part, the change of story. Going away was necessary for Henry in that he grew as a person, made him able to return home and deal with the tragedy of the past. But, think to much was brought into this part, was like a detour that I felt parts of didn't fit. Eventually he returns home, with girl in tow, moves back into "my" house, don't I wish. His family no longer lives there but he reconnects, comes to harsh realizations, and we find out the full extent of the story. Sad, tragic but I loved this book, the writing wonderful, the story of Henry and the complicated roles of fathers. Loved all the literary talk and the different composers and music mentioned. This is in my opinion a brilliant debut of a novelist with some major talent. ARC from librarything.

  • Karen G
    2018-11-13 19:12

    I enjoyed this debut novel, a coming of age story set in the Appalachian Mountains. Henry is the son of a brilliant man who was born very poor, but went away to college, became a lawyer, had one big case that made him some money, and bought an old sinister mansion of metal and glass. This story follows the family life in this house, it is a tragic story, and Henry's going away to college, meeting a woman and bringing her back to the mountains to try and make peace with his life there, and the father who left his family when he was 16.This is also a story of sibling love and family commitments.Thank you to NetGalley, Crown Publishing, and Phillip Lewis!

  • Cheri
    2018-11-22 02:13

    !! NOW AVAILABLE !!While this story centers around Henry from his early years, it begins with the stories of his father and his mother – and their beginnings.Old Buckram, an old town where time has stood fairly still since the first people laid down roots, is home. It sits in “high in the belly of the Appalachian Mountains.” Beyond the outskirts of the town lay the Barrowfields, a place where almost nothing grows. Henry’s grandparents, Helton and Madeline, have lived an ordinary, if hardscrabble, life. They raised their son, also named Henry, there. But Henry’s vision was for another life, another way of life surrounded by people who were more like him, in awe of the great authors he admired, and that he also aspired to become.While still young, Henry – the father – loved reading; it was his lifeline to a life outside the shadows of the mountains, to a life beyond what he could see outside his window. He liberally borrows books from his local library, and what he sees and feels inside these pages are what form his vision of his future life. When he marries Eleonore, they live in an apartment in Baltimore near both the Edgar Allan Poe house and the H.L. Mencken house. It’s an idyllic life for him, for them. He gives her nicknames borrowed from his favourite books. And then home beckons. Duty calls Henry and Eleonore to Old Buckram. Eleonore is full of contagious optimism, seeing this haven in her mind where a simple, beautiful life can be found. Once there, Henry finds a home for sale on Ben Hennom, an architectural oddity that seems to dwell in the shadows of the mountain no matter what time of day. It is where they will raise young Henry and later on Henry’s sister Threnody, born when Henry was nine. Gorgeous prose, this is the kind of book best read when and where you can sink into the atmospheric setting, and follow young Henry’s struggles to come to terms with his ties to this place, disappointments, family, love and despair. A splendidly layered debut, coming-of-age story about home, and family, set in this strange, almost gothic and sinister dwelling, with a tragic and somewhat cursed past. Fathers and sons, their unique relationship. Older siblings to younger ones. For all, the comforting bond of a shared memory. RecommendedPub Date: 07 Mar 2017Many thanks for the ARC provided by Crown Publishing / Hogarth

  • Elyse
    2018-11-25 03:40

    I had mixed feelings about this novel during part 1...which takes us to about the first 30%. At the beginning what stood out for me most was 'the writing'. There were many short choppy sentences- clear and direct. "See Dick Run" was a thought that ran through my mind. I didn't 'not' like the writing...but I was puzzled.During a hike with my husband - I talked with him about my 'SO FAR' reading experience. "It's an odd aura", I told Paul. "Why"? he asked? "Well....for one thing -- I had to read 'very carefully' or I might miss a murder".Unpleasant descriptions could be found 'almost hiding' in a single sentence-- then 'carry on' with ... "will you read me a book"? There were many 'drop' unpleasant sentences: depressing, and scary, ....yet were powerful. It wasn't as if I was craving flowery convoluted prose....but I was starting to wish for lengthier sentences...needing more time to feel and reflect about the characters....and think longer about the story. The longer sentences arrived....but truthfully I was reading this novel with 'some' trepidation. I still think this novel is a little odd. ( I often love odd..but something felt missing to me). Its filled with sorrow and bleakness, and sometimes funny....but even though I was following the ins and outs of the storytelling-Henry the father - Henry the son: THE NARRATOR -- the books - the drinking - the yelling - the burning of books - the mother - Threnody, Henry's young sister - the 3rd child - the tragedies - Henry growing up, going to college, going back home: to the Appalachian Mountains, Henry's love interest .....I felt there were too many ingredients--bouillabaisse soup--it's good.. but I got a little overwhelmed with too many flavors. It's good - really -- I liked it .... I guess I just didn't LOVE it. I'd read this author again. It's a debut -and hey.... pretty damn good for a debut!!! Better than good for a debut! 3.5 Thank You Crown Publishing, Netgalley, and Phillip Lewis

  • Phrynne
    2018-11-25 23:23

    Another remarkably good debut novel - there seem to be lots around at the moment!This is a book about families, but also it is a book about books. Henry Aster, the father, is a very learned man who has acquired his own personal library and has read all of the books in it. I loved the scene where his brother in law tries to prove Henry has not read them all and fails spectacularly!Henry, the son, follows in many ways in his father's footsteps although he does break away from his family for several years which is good for him in many ways.I enjoyed the way the author dipped into the past in a very natural way. No jumping backwards and forwards with dates at the beginnings of chapters, just anecdotes recalled from the past when needed. An awful lot of information was also withheld and it was left to the reader to make some decisions about what had occurred and why.I enjoyed it all very much. The writing is beautiful, quiet, calm and lovingly descriptive of an area the author obviously knows well. And I nearly forgot the dog! Phillip Lewis must have owned just such a dog because his descriptions of its antics are spot on and they provide a touch of humour to the story. Very well done and highly recommended !

  • Edward Lorn
    2018-11-16 00:36

    UPDATE: Someone just liked this review and I got a notification, so I re-read the review because I couldn't remember reading this book. Upon returning to this review I have found that I STILL don't remember a damn thing about this book. I felt that needed to be added to this review. So there. It's added. Bye now.I spent most of The Barrowfields wondering when the story would begin. I was promised a coming-of-age tale. I did not receive that. Unless the publisher and author consider any story that jumps back and forth from childhood to adulthood a coming-of-age story. I do not. To be a coming-of-age story, I feel the reader must be able to see some change in a character, a shift from childhood to adulthood. Hence the term "coming-of-age". I did not get that. I got insta-love bookended by family tragedy. But, as I said at the beginning, I never felt as if the story ever started. I was sat down in the middle of an uneventful life and told to observe. I understand that this is literary fiction, and that literary fiction is more about theme and character than plot and action. I get that. But I was not, for the most part, entertained. There are several gorgeous passages. Many of them, actually. The book is riddled with quote-worthy material. The writing is great, but not so good that it can hold up a plotless narrative. Nothing is more frustrating that a) a synopsis littered with spoilers and/or b) one that misleads the reader. This book suffers from the latter. Because of that, I think who spoiled this this read for me the most is the person who wrote the jacket copy. The book does not cash the check the synopsis writes, and I'm stuck with a recurring NSF fee. Time and time again, I expected something that wasn't there. Had the publishers and/or author mentioned that half of this book was a sappy romance hindered by insta-love so strong that both characters cannot live without each other after a single meeting, I damn sure would've passed on it. In summation: Beautiful prose does not always make an engaging or entertaining read. But mileage may vary. If you don't mind insta-love and love to surf the gorgeous, flowing prose, give this a try. For this reader, the poorly-written jacket copy promised something the book never delivered. I wouldn't mind trying something else from this author, though. Many thanks to Crown Publishing for providing a review copy in return for the review you just read.Final Judgment: A beautiful car with no wheels.

  • Dana
    2018-12-05 21:35

    The Barrowfields is a beautifully written Southern Gothic coming of age novel. The writing is gorgeous - almost poetic.As a North Carolinian, I think the author did amazing job creating a sense of place and left me with characters I will long remember. A few times I felt it became a bit unfocused, so I took off a half star for that. Overall, I think it's a brilliant debut! 4.5 stars

  • Marjorie
    2018-12-06 03:41

    Henry’s father is obsessed with literature and the writing of a novel, so much so that each family member’s life seems to revolve around his books and writing endeavors. Henry’s parents buy a strange, metal and glass house, which is possibly haunted, in the Appalachian Mountains. There are some back flashes to the lives of Henry’s grandparents also. Henry grows up in this spooky house, longing for some kind of connection with his father. When their family is struck by tragedy, Henry can no longer stay in the home and leaves for college, promising his younger sister, Threnody, that he will return for her, a promise which he finds hard to keep.This is a book to read slowly so you can savor every word. It’s filled with beautiful prose that constantly struck a chord with me. It’s a character driven book and the author has done a superb job in bringing these characters to life. The blurb about this book says that it recalls classics by Thomas Wolfe and William Styron and I have to agree with that. When I first started this book, I was sure it would be a 5-star book and I didn’t want it to end. But once the courtship between Henry and Story begins, the book lost some momentum with me, though I was still enjoying the book. It once again regains its unique beauty with the continuation of the story of Henry and his sister, Threnody, and the ending is very moving.Recommended.This book was given to me by the publisher through LibraryThing in return for an honest review.

  • Karen
    2018-12-05 02:31

    A powerful story focused on 3 generations of men and their tribulations, beginning with a short intro into hard-working laborer named Helton Astor, father and grandfather. Then there is Henry, the youngest of Helton’s 5 children, a precocious child who grows up to be a gifted man, devourer of books, but who’s brilliance leads to obsession. Lastly, there is Henry’s son, also named Henry (I’ll call him Henry II). Henry II’s journey of overcoming the overwhelming sadness of his youth to starting over, forgiving and healing was the most captivating of all. I loved this character, his strengths and his weaknesses.I savored and highlighted numerous passages, which I can only describe as haunting, lyrical, desperate, hopeful, breathtaking. This debut novel is quite an accomplishment and it felt like I was reading a classic work by a renowned author.Another shining star of note is not a character at all, but the family’s home - a giant gothic, brooding, bleak, creaky yet extravagant home which takes on a personality all its own. I could close my eyes and picture this estate vividly, as events take place within its walls, a place so brilliantly depicted, a whole chapter dedicated to its glory but which never felt tedious.This is an unforgettable story and I eagerly look forward to the author’s next book.

  • Jordan
    2018-11-27 21:16

    This book really evoked a lot of emotion from me as I read it and, above all else, that alone usually justifies a five star rating, in my opinion. This is a coming of age novel which follows the main character, Henry, from the time he was a young child- actually it begins even before he was conceived, giving the reader some insight into his father's childhood, adolescence, and college years where he meets and marries Henry's mother- growing up in the mountains of North Carolina, up until early adulthood. Both of his parents, but particularly his father, are very in tune with, and connected to, the arts - literature, writing, classical music- and this became a major influence on Henry as well, eventually driving him to venture away from home and family to pursue his passion. This book was about family relationships, loss and how grief can tear a family apart right from the very heart of every member, but also about ambition, disappointment and how with age one grows more aware of ones limitations and mortality and, for some, that realization is overwhelming. It's hard for me to summarize what this book was really about or why I loved it so much. It was one of those books that I really looked forward to reading and couldn't wait to pick it up and continue...if time had permitted, I'm certain I would have finished it all in one setting. I found myself continuously reminiscing my own childhood and relationships and losses and disappointments while reading this novel and although the specific circumstances in the book were completely different from those of my own life, the emotions were the same and therefore it was very relatable.From what I'd heard of this book before I read it (which wasn't much since it won't be released until April) I honestly expected it might be a little boring or slow but I assure you it wasn't. But even now, to describe it to somebody, it might come across that way because it wasn't a fast-paced book with a huge climax or a great deal of tension but there was just enough and I grew so connected to, and invested in, the characters and it was so well written- a book that truly made me think and feel and reflect - that I didn't think twice before giving The Barrowfields a five star rating although I fear my review just won't do it the justice it deserves. I hope that other readers don't look to deeply into reviews and descriptions before reading it themselves because I think it's so hard to articulate just how personal and powerful and emotional and thought provoking this read was, it has to be experienced. This book was simply, and subtlety, profound and the language and writing style was beautiful and often poetic, albeit challenging (I humbly admit I kept my dictionary handy because there were several words throughout that I had never heard before) and I appreciated every single page. As far as I know, this is Phillip Lewis's debut novel but he's certainly an artistic talent who is on to something and I hope his next book is in the works as I look forward to reading more by this author.Thank you, Penguin Random House, for the ARC of The Barrowfields by Phillip Lewis. (It was much appreciated and thoroughly enjoyed).

  • Jeanette
    2018-12-03 20:23

    This is two books masquerading as one book. Yes, the author is in love with words and he can also capture a moment with them. He has perfectly meshed the quality of the original relationship between "bird" and "Henry Lion".But it lost its way worse than Columbus looking for the Indies during the last 2 parts, IMHO.And the story of his birth family, his cognition for writing and books coupled with the same for his father's obsessions, plus their personal "distance"- that was done very well.But Story's melodrama and much of the rest was terribly tangent. Sometimes that works, with our young lawyer being the pivot. But for me, it did not work at all this time. I was not captured within her "plight" and possibly less as it went on. And on. Much of it self-evident, regardless. I'm sure his next book will be better. You will only like this book if you like 1000 layer character development and also admire thinkers a whole lot more than doers. It's a book for the introvert to ponder about other introverts.I disliked nearly every single character in the book except for "bird". To me they were nearly all so super self-involved that it gave the entire book, despite the flowery language, a standoffish tone over all. And what kind of mother would not have gone to that college to see him, if he had never came home or responded well/directly in more than 2 years? Huh? During the first half, I thought that I would enjoy the book as a whole, much more than I ultimately did. But if you love book or music title name-drops and the agony of the artist/writer and their creativity crisis or two, you will like this far more than I did.He was cruel. And the promises? Just words.Depressing "affect"- as they say in psychobabble world. But those seem to be the books that sell in the last 5 years- doubly so. THE SUFFERING ARTIST!

  • Nancy
    2018-11-28 20:23

    "O brothers, like our fathers in their time, we are burning, burning burning in the night." --Thomas WolfePhillip Lewis's debut novel The Barrowfields is a remarkable story, beautifully written and wise. Henry's journey resonates with self-recognition and affirms that going home can open the path to the future.The language is lush with a penchant for rarefied words, a nod to Thomas Wolfe's poetic and verbose style, and the novel is imbued with vivid descriptions and cinematic scenes.The protagonist Henry Aster narrates the story of his family, beginning with the first settlers in Old Buckham. Settled deep in 'the belly' of the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, "a town of ghosts and superstitions," and populated by under a thousand people, 'everyone else lived in the hills beyond.' His grandparents survived on little but were content. Henry's father was considered "awful queer," a bookish boy who idolized Thomas Wolf. University provided an escape and brought him a love of Poe and Faulkner. After graduation he teaches while writing, winning early acclaim before faltering. He wants to write the great American novel--to prove his worth. Then he is called back home to care for his failing mother. The family moves into an abandoned mansion on a hill, a 'macabre' house with dark corners, haunted by ghosts. A lawyer by day, at night he retreats into a cubbyhole room to struggle with his unmanageable novel and his growing alcoholism."Aster's work, for all its brilliance, is impenetrable."Henry had idolized his dad; they shared a love of books and music. But he and his sister Threnody watch their father retreat from the world until he is a 'ghost.' They pledged to always be there for the other. After the tragic death of a new sibling, their father succumbs to despair and deserts his family.Henry leaves Old Buckram for university and law school. He falls in love with Story, a conflicted girl with her own father issues and a fear of intimacy. As he supports Story in her search for her father, returning to her home town of Lot's Folly, Henry realizes that he also must go home again and confront his past, and face the sister he abandoned." I suppose that one can never leave a place completely."Wolfe's influence pervades the novel, from the setting and theme of the search for the father to the influence of reading Wolfe on Henry and his father: just before Henry graduates from Chapel Hill he reads Look Homeward, Angel and You Can't Go Home Again and "never got over them entirely."The role of books is hugely important. The Barrowfields is a 'wasteland of nothingness," a desolate opening in the woods outside of Old Buckham. When the town gathers there to burn Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, Henry implores his father to stop the book burning. In a frighting scene, his father stands up to the crowd to defend and protect the volume from the fire.Our past leaves its scars and questions, and painful as it is, we become free by confronting it. Lewis has written a story that hearkens back to the great literature of the past while offering insight into the universal human condition.You can learn more about Lewis and his debut novel in my interview with the author in my blog post on February 26, 2017.I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

  • Jill
    2018-11-22 23:21

    The Barrowfields is a wonderfully promising debut novel that loses its way by trying to be too ambitious.At first, I was entranced by Philip Lewis’ majestic and evocative prose, which reads as if it could have easily been penned in the 1940s. Henry Aster, our narrator, relays the tale of his father, also named Henry, who returned to his small Appalachian town with his pregnant wife and eventually purchases a gothic haunted house, where horrendous murders took place.The house is a red herring and that trail goes nowhere. It appears to serve as the metaphorical embodiment of the senior Henry’s haunted mind, as he struggles to write a novel and fit in with often small-minded neighbors. One of the most searing parts of the book is the community’s book burning of a Faulkner book, as Henry impotently tries to stop them. The sense of time and place is truly exquisite.Had the book pursued this angle – Henry, who is inexplicably drawn to the Barrowfields and his son Henry who also struggles with “you can’t go home again” – this book would have been an unqualified winner. Yet Henry Jr. leaves his family, and the reason is kept from the reader until the very end. The second half of the book focuses on Henry Jr’s pursuit of an impossibly beautiful (sigh!) college girl named Story, who is very damaged by her past. In this section, melodrama rules. There are secrets, which can rather easily be ascertained by the alert reader before the narrator reveals them. I felt as if the first half and the second half didn’t naturally coalesce and the way too familiar story of Henry Jr’s connection with the exquisite blond and luscious Story didn’t engage me anywhere as much as Henry’s complicated family relationship. In my opinion, the themes advanced in the beginning (“In truth, neither time nor hell exist, but time will steal your soul in a way that hell never could”) should have been delved into and broadened and the Story story should have been minimized.But hey, that’s just my opinion. It’s obvious that Phillip Lewis has talent to burn and I’ll be curious how his career as a writer develops. 3.5 stars.

  • Kristin Ogburn
    2018-11-15 00:21

    WOW! I was fortunate to get an advance copy of The Barrowfields from Phillip as it does not come out until March, 2017. I was mesmerized by the book and could not put it down. It is a beautifully written coming-of-age story full of literary references, vivid descriptions of the mountainous landscape of North Carolina, as well as wonderfully developed characters (including the loveable dog Buller). I cannot wait to get signed copies for friends and family in March. Bravo for an incredible debut!!

  • Lolly K Dandeneau
    2018-11-20 23:39

    “And this man thus described met the shining soul of a woman who was to become my mother. Years would pass and life would be visited upon them, and its toll would be great. His unquenchable thirst for all things would deliquesce like phantom smoke; her indomitable spirit would resurrect itself only in isolation, only as she galloped fiercely through the fields, a solitary knight in battle, with only herself to witness the courage. They were indeed doomed. But this eventual destruction was foreseen by no one at the time.” This is a gorgeously written coming of age, it is heartbreaking and moving. The beauty of nature surrounds the reader, much like the family members and characters within. If I could, I would quote the very last lines because they are insightful, the core of what happens to a life, to any life be it a tree or a human being. This novel tells the story of Henry as he grows up in an Appalachian town, his father a literary dreamer that slowly withers as life’s miseries feed upon his dreams. His choice changes the lives of his wife and children, and seems senseless. As the story focuses on Henry, so to do we get glimpses into Henry senior (his father) and mother Eleonore’s origins. Privy to the early courting of his parent’s, as with any of us, one cannot imagine how the tragedies of life will alter their love. His father, a misfit in his own town, within his own family, hungering for the fruits of knowledge, a higher education, and literary aspirations seems to have leaked his hungers unto his own son. Henry’s father counts on the strengths of his son, to rise out of his own shadow and be the man he couldn’t, to be the master of the life he hungered for. We understand why he was reluctant to be back in his birthplace and why Henry himself leaves and just can’t seem to return. But what and who Henry leaves behind is of great importance. Early in the story of his youth, my heart was seized by sadness for what happens to the family, like a wound that is never healed. I can’t imagine a reader not feeling tenderness for Threnody, Henry’s sister who is so very fragile and yet, somehow a force in the story too. Everything that happens is a fray in the fabric of this family, everyone is affected differently, some appear to forge ahead while others wait back in the shadows, seemingly forgotten.This beautiful novel will not be released until March of 2017, and to dissect it to it’s bones would ruin the telling. I will be revisiting each character and sharing more thoughts after it’s release. Until then, add this to your pile of highly anticipated novels in the New Year. It burrows inside of the reader, be prepared.Publication Date: March 7, 2o17Crown PublishingHogarth visit my blog

  • Shelly
    2018-11-16 23:25

    Full disclosure: Although the author is my brother, I have attempted to write an honest and fair review. Watching my younger brother shepherd this book through countless rewrites and edits over the past 7 years has only increased my appreciation for those who write not only to give the rest of us pleasure but also to make us think. Haunting and beautifully written, The Barrowfields is a complex novel that requires close reading and reflection to fully appreciate. The book is like a treasure hunt for accomplished readers; the widely read will delight in the subtle literary references sprinkled throughout this novel. If you are looking for lyrical prose and strong character development, that is all here, but The Barrowfields offers much more. Having grown up in a small town similar in some ways to Old Buckram, I can tell you that the book perfectly captures the rhythms and charming idiosyncrasies of Appalachian language. Reading the anecdotes related early in the novel was like listening to my grandfather tell stories after Sunday dinner, something I took for granted at the time but would give anything to hear again. In this respect The Barrowfields evoked a Clyde Edgerton feeling for me, as if you are having a conversation with a family elder, rich with insights and memories. Yet The Barrowfields is not simply full of warm and amusing stories. There are darker elements and a strong sense of foreboding throughout the novel. A few scenes, such as the one with the horses in the isolated field, actually raised goosebumps on my arms. Although the reader's desire to get to the bottom of both large and small mysteries in the novel encourages rapid page turning, many sections warrant multiple examinations for their beauty and atmospheric power. The conflicted relationship young Henry has with his gifted yet troubled father also resonated deeply with me. Henry's struggle to reconcile his reverence and admiration for his father with the devastating effects of the elder Henry's choices was powerful and thought provoking. Those of us with a loved one suffering from depression know that these relationships can be complicated and can have far-reaching effects on us throughout our lives. Like those relationships, The Barrowfields can be disturbing and painful at times but is ultimately very rewarding. Recommended.

  • Laura
    2018-11-14 23:17

    A gorgeous Gothic coming of age story, complete with family ties that bind, a crumbling manse, a palpable ghost, and even Poe, The Barrowfields is a beautiful debut novel by Phillip Lewis.The weight of everything both Henry the father & Henry the son bear in trying to just be themselves is crushing. The father is definitely out of place in his world. The son could possibly navigate his life, but he has to be willing to jettison the things that drowned his father. This definitely is a male-centered book, but it should make no apologies for that: father-son relationships do shape many people, who in turn shape the world. There is more and more literature covering the wide variety of other forces at work in our culture - if you want that, you can find it. But don't forsake this vein of classic American tale altogether. Lewis proves that it's still vital & valid for understanding the world we live in.Heavy with atmosphere, this is best read when you have time to linger over the images Lewis conjures. It kept reminding me of sitting on my aunt's porch on a humid afternoon, waiting for the storm to break. If you love beautiful prose with classic, enduring themes, pick this one up when you can.My thanks to the author & publisher for an ARC of this novel.

  • Myra
    2018-11-21 19:15

    **3.5 Stars** A LibraryThing ARC winThis debut is a fine coming-of-age novel. The story centers mostly on the narrator and his father, a book lover and failed writer. Overall, the writing was beautiful, but at times a bit overly descriptive. The story was mostly a joyless account of dysfunctional family life in North Carolina. My favorite quote is: “I’m not telling you that you have to read this book—that I’m going to make you read it. I’m saying you ought to be the one to decide whether you’re going to read it.” (in ref. to As I Lay Dying)

  • Faith
    2018-12-02 23:41

    The barrowfields are barren fields in Old Buckram, North Carolina. Some people believe the fields are haunted. Old Buckram is where the Aster family has lived for generations. This book is narrated by Henry Aster Jr. His father Henry Sr. was an aspiring author who became a lawyer. He never felt at home in this town where his love of books was an anomaly. Nevertheless he returned to it with his wife and continued to live there with his two children until one day he just disappeared. You don't find out what happened to him until the very end of the book. Henry Sr. was a complicated, interesting character. The entire book should have been about him. Unfortunately, this book doesn't stick with his story. The more I read of this book the less I liked it. In the second half it shifted to the tedious story of Henry Jr. and his romance with a fellow student named Story. Story is troubled (really mopey) due to a mystery surrounding her adoption. The solution to this mystery is so obvious that it didn't deserve a paragraph, let alone multiple chapters. The plot needed significant pruning.I give credit to a contemporary southern fiction author who writes about something other than meth addicts and pick up trucks, however I found this book very unsatisfying and I thought the author tried too hard to write "beautiful" passages. I received a free copy of the ebook from the publisher, however I wound up listening to the audiobook borrowed from the library.

  • Cheryl Steele
    2018-11-12 03:37

    Really enjoyed the characters and the writing style, a must read!

  • Sharon
    2018-12-07 01:23

    This dark, devastatingly beautiful debut novel updates Southern Gothic with a coming of age tale reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe, William Styron, Harper Lee and Thomas Wolfe, its primary muse. Like his father, narrator Henry has a devotion to literature and classical music that marks him as a misfit in their North Carolina mountain community. In their shared story of tragedy and love, both leave and return to a home that binds and wounds. Lewis deftly transitions from family heartbreak to college ribaldry to the euphoria of falling in love, and his sentences astound with an erudite charm. Henry's description of a Chopin composition is almost otherworldly. Bonus: one of the best characters is a dog.

  • Kasa Cotugno
    2018-11-20 21:25

    North Carolina has a rich tradition of storytellers, exemplified by Thomas Wolfe who is referenced often here. But there is also Charles Frazier, Reynolds Price, and currently, Ron Rash. Phillip Lewis shows great promise in this, his first novel, which is in turns brooding and sorrowful, but rich with that southern tradition of place and character. There was some gorgeous writing ("He spoke in complete sentences with advanced grammar despite growing up in the midst of casual mountain dialect.") But I had a problem with continuity and imagery, and there were jumps in practicality that didn't jibe with reality. I wrote it off to the emphasis on character rather than plot, and enjoyed it through the end.

  • Karen
    2018-12-02 01:38

    I received this ARC from in exchange for a review. Set in current day in a small Appalachian town in North Carolina, Henry grows up at the foot of his father's writing desk. Tradegy tips his father 'over the edge' and we watch this family unravel.From the description ... "Mythic in its sweep and mesmeric in its prose" ... in my opinion the writing is voluminous, capacious. "Cadaverous ambience" is just a small example that made me chortle. Too many words describing a very minute thing.Watching a family spiraling down in a free fall makes good reading. Overall, the story was interesting. The writing was a bit over the top for my taste.3 ☆

  • Kmkelling
    2018-11-22 02:34

    I work with Phillip Lewis and had the opportunity to read his book prior to its publication in April 2017. I encourage everyone to get this book and read it once it is published. It is a heartbreaking coming of age story based in the mountains of NC. The character development is superb and the vivid descriptions made me feel as if I was a part of the book. You will not be disappointed.

  • Pat
    2018-11-21 19:29

    This is a remarkable debut novel by a talented author. It follows the life of Henry Aster, the son of a man who loves books and a gentle woman whose passion is gardening. The family lives in a very unusual house in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. The prose is exquisite and the literary references are memorable. My thanks to LibraryThing for the opportunity to read this as an ARC.

  • Rachel Stansel
    2018-11-27 03:34

    This is a beautiful book and deserves the full 5 Stars! I knew virtually nothing about the book before I started reading, but I was immediately captured by the author's unique voice and rich characters. The story centers around Henry, starting with the lives of his grandparents and parents in a small mountain town in North Carolina. We then meet Henry and follow him as he tries to make his way both because of and in spite of this history.The book is at its core about family and how loss in all its forms can pull them apart despite the deep love that binds them. It's a beautifully and deeply honest look at how the perception of those losses shift as our own experiences grow. I found myself fully immersed in the places and people, as the author brought them to life. The author's style was simple and beautiful, giving a full life to each character and to the home and town Henry grows up in.I can't recommend this book strongly enough and I look forward to reading more from Mr Lewis.Full disclosure - I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley and the publisher, Penguin Random House, in exchange for an honest review.

  • Melissa
    2018-11-13 02:29

    Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an Advanced Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review. The writing was so amazing in this novel. I think I would read Phillip Lewis' grocery lists with zero complaints for life. The novel's setting was perfect, the characters close to perfect, the only issue I couldn't get over was the plot and timing. Each different time period was almost like a different short story cobbled together into one novel rather than one fluid storyline. Each story could have been expanded into its own full-length novel in its own right (and successfully). I definitely will read more Lewis though. He is a very promising writer.

  • Heather
    2018-11-16 21:34

    What a debut! Very excited for Phillip.