by Patrick O’Brian

On Sale: 09/03/2024


by Patrick O’Brian

On Sale: 09/03/2024


About the Book

Back in print and now in hardback, the deeply personal and ingenious literary first novel written under Patrick O’Brian’s own name, newly introduced by Nikolai Tolstoy.


John Aubrey Pugh, an Oxford don who has given up his teaching post and come to live in a secluded Welsh valley, falls in love with Bronwen Vaughan, the wife of a young farmer who is his neighbour. She is estranged from her husband, an admirable man in many ways, but one who has compelled her to submit to some brutal sexual perversion.

When a famous preacher, whose advances Bronwen has rejected with contempt, persuades the entire community that she has committed adultery with Pugh, a reckoning is inevitable, and the ill-fated consequences of their actions are recounted in the testimonies of Bronwen, Pugh and the preacher’s cousin, Mr Lloyd.

Patrick O’Brian is world famous for his novels of nautical high adventure, but twenty years before readers were first introduced to Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, he wrote this intensely felt and evocative tale set in the beautiful but often unforgiving
Welsh landscape he knew so well. With all the freshness and immediacy that have become hallmarks of O’Brian’s style, he conveys the hopes and fears, and tragedy, of his characters, demonstrating the flair and sheer humanity that have made him one of the twentieth century’s literary greats.

This new edition of Patrick O'Brian's first adult novel includes a new introduction by the author's biographer and stepson, Nikolai Tolstoy.

Critical Praise

‘Wonderfully portrayed… the uncompromising detail of the scenery, the small, revealing exchanges of social life and the persuasive development of character are those of a master-novelist working’ Philippa Gregory, Sunday Times

‘Patrick O'Brian's Testimonies makes one think of a great ballad or a Biblical story… In O'Brian, as in Yeats, the most studied literary cultivation and knowledge bring into being works which read as if they were prior to literature and conscious literary technique.’ Delmore Schwartz

‘The harmony between setting, character, narrative and method achieves an extraordinary power and intensity of emotion without ever betraying the slightest sign of effort. It is a story that does not so much speak as sing, with the haunting purity of the ancient rhapsode or the bard, yet in a voice as modern and direct as today's newspaper.’ Godfrey Hodgson, Independent

‘O’Brian has a power of bringing near to the reader savagery and tenderness, beauty and mystery and boldness and dignity. He's perceptive and skilled, but best of all he writes with passion.’ Eudora Welty

‘The perfection of its prose… the characters’ attitudes and motives, the delicate complexities of feeling, and the lyrical evocation of place make this book remarkable… Testimonies is a perfect tragedy.’ Jessica Mann, Sunday Telegraph


Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780008695477
  • ISBN 10: 0008695474
  • Imprint: HarperCollins
  • On Sale: 09/03/2024
  • Pages: 288
  • List Price:32.99 CAD
  • BISAC1 : FICTION / Literary

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