Brush the wandering hedgehog by the fire

It's the Thomas Hardy Jude the Obscure Experience! (except that it happens after graduation rather than while dreaming hopelessly of Christminster).

Jamie Fox has what is possibly Britain's most dead-end job: he walks up and down a field scaring away partridges and pheasants.

You'd have thought that they could get people to pay for the experience of being living history - spend a day living the Hardy Life! - though perhaps maintaining a regular supply might be an issue. Also, it's possible that some people might be moved, like Jude Fawley, by humanitarian feelings towards the lickle birdiez and let them eat their fill.

But would this not be another ratchet on the grim Hardyesque irony of life? - Jude comes home with his shiny degree and the only job he can get is bird-scarer.

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There is rage, resentment and a grim ring of truth in this tale of rural life:

Bronca* is generally regarded to be a Latin American phenomenon, yet France's debut novel suggests that the rolling weald of East Sussex harbours its fair share of bronca as well. France grew up on a farm much like the one she describes, and paints a picture of bucolic pastures concealing a stagnant community of unresolved resentments.
Mother Isabel is a harassed farmer's wife who feels as unloved as the heavy oak furniture that fills up their decrepit stone farmhouse. Her husband Hayes is a surly, weather-beaten figure who seems in a permanent rage, primarily with himself.
Everyone in the village seems to bear some festering discontent.
France shows how a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty can become an area of ongoing noxious boredom for those who have to grow up in it.

There'll always be Starkadders at Cold Comfort Farm, no?

Josephine Tey also sent up this sort of thing in the oeuvre of Silas Weekley, who figures in a couple of her novels.

I do wonder that neither novelist nor reviewer seem to have read Gibbons' classic send-up of the entire genre. East Sussex, forsooth!

Come back Thomas Hardy, who occasionally interspersed a scene of bucolic jollity before everything went pearshaped for his unfortunate characters.

*'[T]he psychological condition of sullen resignation and impotent rage the Argentinians know as bronca'.

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Brush the wandering hedgehog by the fire
Five farmers from the Auvergne countryside appeared in court yesterday for attacking the writer Pierre Jourde over his novel inspired by their tiny village.

Incensed by Jourde's depictions of heavy drinking, adultery, intermarriage, filthy homes and accidents with farm machinery, some locals say the novelist will never be forgiven. But Paris's literary elite is horrified by the tale of an acclaimed writer "attacked by his own characters".

Fuller report here. Doesn't the description of the book remind one of Josephine Tey's fictional novelist of 'steaming manure and slashing rain', Silas Weekley, a character in To Love and Be Wise. One of his novels also features on Alan Grant's bedside table at the beginning of The Daughter of Time, and the description suggests that it is far from ideal convalescence reading. Sounds as if Aunt Ada Doom would be a breath of fresh air. And woodsheds cosy refuges...