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Under the Apple Boughs
'A pastoral symphony ... Lyrical, descriptive, haunting at times, always beautiful.'
'A song of seasons, a Medieval illuminated Book of Hours ... For me, the touchstone comparison is Dylan Thomas’s elegiac A Child’s Christmas in Wales ... '
"A Lord of Time, with a fine set of whiskers ..."
“ ... he sailed at their head to dry dock, where they were dismantled and hauled across to the rail head for the journey to Shrewsbury and the home waters of the Cluny, carried there on a train pulled by an engine called Progress."
" ... the PS Batch Castle pulled away to the sound of ‘Hearts of Oak’ from the band on the quayside, the bouncy, sea-brisk notes following her out to midstream."
"By the river and with it and on it and in it. It’s brother and sister to me, and aunts and company, and food and drink. It’s my world, and I don’t want any other ..."
"And sweet eyes bright with lust, the hares met in twilight circles and jack tumbled jill or was sent on his way by her, boxed and ringing across the maddening, doe-scented fields ..."
'The Cuckoos of Batch Magna is reminiscent of H. E. Bates' autobiographical book, Down the River and other great literary works set on the river, both urban and rural: George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss, Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, Joyce Carey's The Horse's Mouth, Penelope Fitzgerald's Offshore, Graham Swift's Waterland, and Iain Sinclair's Downriver, for starters. In these works, as in Peter Maughan's wonderful novel, it is the unforgettable interaction between the river and the characters that remains indelible.'
Gillian Mary Hanson, author of 'Riverbank and Seashore in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century British literature'.
'Looking ahead, I can see a time when literary historians will put (Peter Maughan's) work in just such a perspective as Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows.'
James Ellsworth, United States, Amazon Vine Voice.
'A modern British comedy gem that will quickly become a classic … Indeed, this is a book that will remind some readers of other bucolic comedy masterpieces. (The Cuckoos of Batch Magna belongs in such illustrious company!) Jerome K. Jerome’s three young boating men … Wodehouse’s unflappable and ever-resourceful valet, Jeeves, could have helped the hapless and accident-prone Bertie Wooster during one of his country rambles to this rural Eden. Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim would have felt at home here. Almost certainly Kenneth Grahame’s Ratty – who lived by and on the River, and liked nothing so much as messing around in boats … H.G. Wells’ Polly would have loved to settle down here! (Perhaps he did.) Laurie Lee, and his loving, cider-drinking Rosie, actually lived in one of the nearby valleys …!
'... We may be reminded of the wonderful film, The Titfield Thunderbolt, Compton Mackenzie’s Whisky Galore, and classic Ealing Studio comedy films, such as The Maggie … H.E. Bates’ The Darling Buds of May, relocated westwards, in cider country, away from the hop fields of Kent … The best books stand up to re-reading, savouring, reflecting, and remembering. The Cuckoos of Batch Magna is one of these best books!'
Dr John Gough (Australia), Amazon review.
'You should even read this to infants because the cadence and beauty of the words are good entries into the world of literature ... for anyone who loves the written word to miss the opportunity to read and relish this gem would be sad indeed. It will go into the history of literature as one of the classics. Give yourself a gift and read The Cuckoos of Batch Magna.'
JoyMarie Pavarini-Jaecks, Lover of the Writen Word, (USA), Amazon review.
'A masterpiece that is breathtaking in its scope ...'
Ginger D. Harman, Book Talk America.
Linda A. Root (California), USA, Amazon review.
'The combination of wry British humor, gorgeously evocative description, great characters, wonderful dialog and leisurely fascinating plot is masterful … Imagine McCall Smith writing on the English-Welsh border, add soaring descriptions of meadow, river and home, build it all into chapters that end like well-made TV episodes, nicely complete and leaving you yearning for more, and you’ll get the picture …'
Shelia Deeth, USA, Top Amazon 1000 Reviewer (Vine Voice).
'Literary perfection ... I've not encountered another writer who uses such beautiful wording. His scenery descriptions come alive as if they are a character themselves.'
Liz Terek, (United States), Amazon review.
Kimberley Scott, (USA), Kimberley's Bookshelf.
'It has been a long time since I have found a British novel that calls to my heart. The Cuckoos of Batch Magna by Peter Maughan is going to become one of the most beloved books of the decade ... This is a story that will restore your weary soul.'
Jenny Willis, (VA, United States,) Amazon review.
'In language as lilting as the waters lulling the hulls of the houseboats of Batch Magna, Peter Maughan, raconteur extraordinaire, leads us on a lyrical glide down the River Cluny through this fictional backwater of misfits—cuckoos both feathered and fleshed. Boasting an oddball cast of dysfunctional characters whose eccentricities, in true and fine English fettle, are more endearing than damning, this spicy evocation of Welsh country life is perhaps most aptly coined as
'Midsomer Murders meets Mark Twain ... '
E. Llewelyn (London, UK), essayist, poet, and author of the 'Suicide Ride' series, Amazon review.
'... There is a delicacy and precision in the manner in which this tale advances, which gives one hope for the future of the English language.'
Peter Ellson (France) Amazon review.
'If this isn't made into a TV series it will be the world's loss .... You will never forget how it made you feel. All good stories should delight, enchant, touch, teach, recall, inspire, motivate, and challenge. I was not disappointed ... I'll leave you with the words of Mark Twain, that helps express the feeling I walked away with after finishing The Cuckoos of Batch Magna: 'Such slathers of ancient friends, & such worlds of talk, & such deep enjoyment of it!'
Mark Van Aken Williams, USA, author of 'The Burlesque of Graceless Acting' and 'The Prophet of Sorrow.'
Peter Maughan's descriptive skills extend to people. Each unique soul is vibrantly alive, and his deft pen moved them into my heart and life.'
Sharon Lippincott, (USA), Amazon review.
'... so enchantingly and poetically told that the prose sings like the owls, larks, and rooks (and cuckoos). ... it is about a way of living. It is about a love of paddle steamers, barges, otters and all God's creatures great and small, and of Bill Sikes ... Several reviewers have compared Maughan's writing with others such as Kingsley Amis. This reviewer says it is incomparably wonderful writing which made her think of Laurence Sterne (in terms of humor and 'Learned Wit') and Thomas Hardy (in terms of class consciousness and social constraints that cripple lives). The conspiratorial villagers evoke the gentle humor of 'Waking Ned,' too."'Leila Smith for The Kindle Book Review.
'Peter Maughan's work has been characterized as The Wind in the Willows for grown-ups. Exactly. Except ... there is a thoughtful, gracious yet self-effacing intelligence in his writing that is nothing less than literary brilliance.'
S. Kay Murphy, On Being Simply True book blog.
'To enter the world of Batch Magna is to lose oneself in a parallel universe where most people are fundamentally decent and kind, despite being as kooky and crazy as coots. Peter Maughan has created some endearing and charismatic characters who take on so much life and substance that you find yourself wondering what they are doing while they are off-stage, and missing them when the last page is read ... The writing is lyrical, evocative, ironic, sardonic and borderline cynical, but always imbued with a compassionate understanding of the human condition ... (it) might just restore your faith in humanity.'
Angelica Bentley (Dolphin) France, A Maze of Reviews. Top Amazon 50 Reviewer.
'... exquisitely written, it reveals an intimate connection with Nature. The sights described, the sounds, the feel of the wind and the tricks that the latter can play when the sun shines, all combined with an unerringly accurate understanding of the Anglo-Welsh psyche, form an outstandingly evocative and sometimes rib-ticklingly funny gem of a composition in the tradition of Three Men in a Boat and The wind in the willows.'
Bani Sodermark, Karlstad (Sweden), Amazon Vine Voice.
"... Peter Maughan succeeds brilliantly in combining his beautifully poetic and descriptive style with the ability to entertain that takes your breath away, leaving you on a plain of magical enchantment ... Here is an author who is highly underrated and amongst the best I have ever read."
Leonie Coleman, Melbourne, Australia.
'Inevitable comparisons to other authors are a good thing. It's like the old Sonny & Cher song 'The Beat Goes On' in that good writing, like rock and roll, will never die. So if I compare Peter Maughan to Alexander McCall Smith, know that I have compared Alexander McCall Smith to Barbara Pym and that is the highest compliment for me to bestow! ....'
Clarissa Simmens (Poet in FL) United States.
'The Cuckoos of Batch Magna belongs in every library, on every bookshelf. But please don’t leave it on the shelf. Take it down and read it, often. Your mind and soul will thank you ...'
J. G. Hughes, JmarkAfghans book blog.
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?
That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain.
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.
A. E. Houseman's A Shropshire Lad.