Midwinter in the early years of this century. A teenage girl on holiday has gone missing in the hills at the heart of England. The villagers are called up to join the search, fanning out across the moors as the police set up roadblocks and a crowd of news reporters descends on their usually quiet home.
Meanwhile, there is work that must still be done: cows milked, fences repaired, stone cut, pints poured, beds made, sermons written, a pantomime rehearsed.
The search for the missing girl goes on, but so does everyday life. As it must.
As the seasons unfold there are those who leave the village and those who are pulled back; those who come together or break apart. There are births and deaths; secrets kept and exposed; livelihoods made and lost; small kindnesses and unanticipated betrayals.
Bats hang in the eaves of the church and herons stand sentry in the river; fieldfares flock in the hawthorn trees and badgers and foxes prowl deep in the woods – mating and fighting, hunting and dying.
An extraordinary novel of cumulative power and grace, Reservoir 13 explores the rhythms of the natural world and the repeated human gift for violence, unfolding over thirteen years as the aftershocks of a stranger’s tragedy refuse to subside.
About the author
Jon McGregor is the author of four novels and a story collection. He is the winner of the IMPAC Dublin Literature Prize, Betty Trask Prize, and Somerset Maugham Award, and has twice been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. He is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Nottingham, where he edits The Letters Page, a literary journal in letters. He was born in Bermuda in 1976, grew up in Norfolk, and now lives in Nottingham.
‘Absolutely magnificent; one of the most beautiful, affecting novels I’ve read in years. The prose is alive and ringing. There is so much space and life in every sentence. I don’t know how he’s done it. It’s beautiful‘ Eimear McBride
‘This is a book quite unlike anything I have read before. There’s a hypnotic pull to the narrative, which has an irresistibly cumulative effect: in time I felt intimately immersed in a community traumatised by tragedy. Moreover McGregor writes with rare grace and integrity, and with such exquisite care the reader would be hard-pressed to find an infelicitous syllable, still less a word or phrase. If people were not already aware that here is one of our most accomplished living writers, they certainly will be now’ Sarah Perry
‘McGregor writes with such grace and precision, with love even, about who and where we are, that he leaves behind all other writers of his generation‘ Sarah Hall
‘Reservoir 13 is quite extraordinary – the way it’s structured, the way it rolls, the skill with which Jon McGregor lets the characters breathe and age’ Roddy Doyle
‘If you don’t yet know you should read novels by Jon McGregor, then I can’t help you‘ Evie Wyld
‘A work of intense, forensic noticing; an unobtrusively experimental, thickly atmospheric portrait of the life of a village which, for its mixture of truthfulness and potency, deserves to be set alongside works of such varied brilliance as Ronald Blythe’s Akenfield, Jim Crace’s Harvest and Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood’ Sarah Crown, TLS
‘Even by the standards of his mature work, McGregor’s latest novel is a remarkable achievement… Fluid and fastidious, its sparing loveliness feels deeply true to its subject. There are moments, as in life, of miraculous grace, but no more than that…(a) humane and tender masterpiece’ Irish Times