'… as the lark's warbling echoed in her head she thought of her spring well, the icy water twirling up from the stony bottom, the cool shadows of the bushes stretching over it like wings, and out on the grass the shadows of the poplar leaves dancing like little slippers.'
Like the caged lark, Mrs Griffin feels out of place in the overcrowded house in the back streets of Belfast. Unemployment has brought her son Johnny and his family to the brink of eviction, and it is only by giving up her home in the country and moving in with the family that she can give them a chance of survival. The consequences of the grandmother’s harsh uprooting reverberate throughout the novel, and as relationships within the family develop, her sacrifice brings both tragedy and, unexpectedly, redemption.
Written in prose as ‘sinewy as a wintry oak’, Lost Fields is a powerful and unsentimental account of working-class Belfast, where the struggle to survive is offset by the love of family and community and by the beauty and joy of the natural world. A classic novel by an acknowledged master.
'His tact and pacing, in the individual sentence and the overall story, are beautiful… McLaverty's place in our literature is secure' – Seamus Heaney.