Reversed Forecast / Small Holdings

Reversed Forecast / Small Holdings

Nicola Barker

Two novels from Nicola Barker, published together in a single volume. ‘Small Holdings’: it’s all go in a little oasis of nature, in this stirring tale of subterfuge among the shrubbery – plus ‘Reversed Forecast’, the prize-winning first novel from England’s greatest female comic novelist.

‘Small Holdings’ is set in an attractive park in north London. The protagonists are Phil, a chronically shy gardener; Doug, his imposing and unpredictable supervisor; and a malevolent one-legged ex-museum curator called Saleem. Phil strives nobly to maintain his equilibrium despite being systematically mystified, brutalised, drugged, derided and seduced. But when he loses his eyebrows, he decides to fight back.

‘Reversed Forecast’ is a novel of gambling and allergies, music and dogs, set in some of London’s less scenic locations. Its characters select each other and try or don’t try to make winning combinations. But, as Ruby, this story’s soft-centred heroine, observes: ‘Losing, that’s the whole point of the gamble.’

Reviews of Reversed Forecast / Small Holdings

    • ‘A clever and quirky tale…You’ll find Nicola Barker’s writing as easy to swallow as a glass of milk.’ Cosmopolitan
    • ‘Edgy and comic, it succeeds by virtue of Barker’s flamboyant sense of the absurd.’ Elle
    • ‘A highly original piece of writing…A bizarre tale with a refreshingly different approach.’ Bookseller
    • ‘This marvellous short novel explodes into action, with Barker letting off fireworks and flares in all directions, performing dazzling verbal gymnastics as she charts the gardeners’ progress through the maze of corporate finance and sinister personal rivalry…Barker’s ear for the language of in-fighting contrasts beautifully with Phil’s gentle devotion to the natural world…As a study in the nature of charisma, this is a hilarious and remarkably assured novel.’ Alex Clark, TLS
    • ‘Funny and intelligent…Barker’s novel is about territory; the site of human rights, the fundamental reality which permits and governs the more complex struggles of body and mind…prose so absolutely focussed that one reads with the sense of a great truth being apprehended before one’s eyes…Barker’s sense of plot and comic timing is faultless: she goes for big effects, which resound brilliantly within the small space her narrative describes, and holds the whole thing down together with writing that is resolved down to the last detail. “Small Holdings” paints the big picture on a small canvas, capturing in it the universality that is the essence of good writing.’ Rachel Cusk, The Times
    • ‘Barker is adept at manipulating complicated groups of characters, knitting their lives together adroitly and watching them interconnect.’ Jonathan Coe, Daily Mail