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About the book
  • Published: 12 February 2018
  • ISBN: 9780099554936
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • RRP: $19.99
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Ashland & Vine


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The Costa prize-winning poet and novelist is back with a remarkable novel about love grief, and the power of unlikely friendships

Kate, a grieving, semi-alcoholic film student, invites an elderly woman to take part in an oral-history documentary. Jean declines, but makes her a bizarre counter-offer: if Kate can stay sober for four days, she will tell her a story. If she can stay sober beyond that, there will be another, and then another, amounting to the entire history of one family’s life.

Gradually, Jean offers a heart-breaking account, not only of her own history – a lost lover, a family scarred by war – but of the American century itself; as a deep connection emerges between the women which will transform both of their lives.

  • Pub date: 12 February 2018
  • ISBN: 9780099554936
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • RRP: $19.99

About the Author

John Burnside

John Burnside is amongst the most acclaimed writers of his generation. His novels, short stories, poetry and memoirs have won numerous awards, including the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, the Whitbread Poetry Award, the Encore Award and the Saltire Scottish Book of the Year. In 2011 he became only the second person to win both the Forward and T. S. Eliot Prizes for poetry for the same book, Black Cat Bone. In 2015 he was a judge for the Man Booker Prize. He is a Professor in the School of English at St Andrews University.

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Praise for Ashland & Vine

“What does it mean to live with integrity in the United States of America? That is the question haunting John Burnside’s new novel… The way that Burnside layers these stories is masterful, and becomes a meditation on storytelling itself.”

Duncan White, Daily Telegraph

“A book of wintry landscapes, family secrets and alcoholism, but it's also a paean to the art of listening well that is especially welcome after the last 12 months of stridency…Burnside, who is also an accomplished poet, writes lyrical rose with virtuoso ease…Ashland & Vine is built on the trust that evolves between talker and listener; the movement of a mind trapped in its own uncertainties and a series of tableaux which build to a strange and stirring kind of redemption.”

Marcel Theroux, Guardian

“This is a novel that will no doubt be catching the eyes of judges of major prizes in 2017.”

Big Issue, 2017 Books of the Year

“Ashland and Vine is a great book… It proceeds with such loping grandeur and is so tight-lipped about its themes that it takes a while for the realization to dawn that it is nothing short of an American epic. That, however, is what Burnside has written: a drifty, dreamy, dramatic epic.”

James Marriott, The Times

“Ashland & Vine proposes solace and joy in intergenerational friendship, and an optimism in what can be accomplished through talking and listening.”

Thomas Marks, Literary Review

“Few writers manage distinction in even one form. John Burnside has achieved it in two… [A]s Burnside publishes a novel and a poetry collection on the same day, the doubled nature of his practice is impossible to ignore – and it is to be celebrated… Like his verse, his fiction captures the untidiness of life and provides no neat conclusions; neither points of arrival, nor nicely illustrated morals. Yet, instead of being artless, it creates satisfying, haunting wholes. A Burnside narrative stays in the mind like a half-broken dream; it’s often hard to pin down just why it is so compelling… The book may be a serious examination of social history but its cultural observations are sharp to the point of satire… If you have hitherto admired John Burnside in only one genre, now is the time to take the smallest of sideways steps and read both.”

Fiona Sampson, New Statesman

“Burnside offers a fictional tale—a story built around a medley of American history, human fallibility and the possibility of hope.”

India Doyle, Culture Trip

“Burnside’s new novel Ashland & Vine is a story about telling old stories again, and never quite settling the truth of a childhood long past… This is a delicate, beautiful novel, filled with tender details and sharply evoked, lyrical moments.”

Daniel Swift, Spectator

“With the very first line, this novel sets up its emotional world with remarkable efficiency. “The day I met Jean Culver was also the day I stopped drinking”… We can sense that the next 300 or so pages are going to bring us revelations, connections and transformation… Although the obvious comparison is with Scheherazade, Burnside’s narrative is more complex than the tale-within-a-tale structure. There is a linear quality to the storytelling, but it is one in which the lines switch, double back and tie themselves in knots, or are cast aside only to be picked up again later.”

Kathy Watson, Tablet

“John is a masterful storyteller, and this is a book all about stories. How they connect us; how they save us. I know I’m in safe hands whenever I pick up a book by him.”

Jen Campbell, The Times

“There are moments of shocking brutality, but they cannot overwhelm the novel’s curious tenderness. It is far and away Burnside’s most optimistic and gentle book.”

Stuart Kelly, The Scotsman

“Carries a healing and redemptive charge.”

Herald Scotland


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