Hardy, Jules 1958-
HARDY, Jules 1958-
PERSONAL: Born 1958, in Bristol, England.
CAREER: Writer, teacher. Has worked variously as a tutor, fish peddler, and carpenter.
AWARDS, HONORS: W. H. Smith Fresh Talent Award, 2002, for Altered Land: A Novel.
Altered Land: A Novel, Arcade Publishing (New York, NY), 2002.
Mister Candid, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2003.
SIDELIGHTS: Jules Hardy's debut, Altered Land: A Novel, is a story of sadness, abandonment, illness, alcoholism, and the powerful relationship between a mother and son. Kerry Fried commented in the New York Times Book Review that the story "is rich in images."
Joan Player, a beautiful, talented academic, lives in rural England with her son, John, a swimmer who aspires to becoming a professional athlete. John's father abandoned them before he was born, but Joan has created a good life for her son and herself. On a trip to London to celebrate John's thirteenth birthday, Joan takes a wrong turn and finds herself in a threatening neighborhood where a bomb, planted by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) explodes, seriously injuring both of them. John is in the hospital for an extended period, and when he is released, he is deaf and unable to go underwater. Joan, whose face is now disfigured, leaves her teaching job to hide within the pages of her journal and in a whiskey glass, and maintain her only friendship—with Ellen, whom she met at the hospital during John's treatment.
Nearly three decades pass, and John is a successful carpenter married to Sonja, who suffers from synesthesia, an affliction that causes colors to recall smells and sights to become sounds, but which she uses to her benefit in choosing foods to feature in her delicatessen. But their marriage is failing, and John is withdrawing into himself. Joan, who has built up a significant portfolio of investments, becomes a total recluse who emerges only to care for Ellen, who is dying of cancer.
"This affecting first novel is about people trying to rebuild their lives as the world caves in on them," wrote Booklist's Kevin Canfield. Library Journal's Barbara Love called Altered Land "essential for readers of quality fiction." A Publishers Weekly contributor observed that Hardy's "captivating prose, lushly descriptive but never overly sentimental, heightens the multilayered effect that lingers well after the final page has been turned."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 15, 2002, Kevin Canfield, review of Altered Land: A Novel, p. 207.
Library Journal, September 1, 2002, Barbara Love, review of Altered Land, p. 213.
New York Times Book Review, December 15, 2002, Kerry Fried, review of Altered Land, p. 28.
Publishers Weekly, October 14, 2002, review of AlteredLand, p. 66.
Guardian Unlimited,http://books.guardian.co.uk/ (September 14, 2002), Jemima Hunt, Isobel Montgomery, review of Altered Land.*