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An epic voyage, undertaken with the grandest of ambitions.

Laperouse leaves France in the Spring of 1785 with two ships under his command, knowing that he sails with the full backing of the French government. This is to be a voyage of scientific and geographical discovery - but every person on board has their own hopes, ambitions and dreams.

As the ships move across vast distances in their journey of nearly four years, the different characters step forward and invite us into their world. From the remote Alaskan bay where a dreadful tragedy unfolds, to the wild journey Barthelemy de Lessups undertakes from the far east of Russia to St Petersburg, the reader is irresistibly drawn into a extraordinarily vivid world.

Landfalls is a profoundly moving and intensely evocative novel about scientific exploration, human endeavour and individual tragedy,
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Product details

  • Paperback | 416 pages
  • 133 x 200 x 29mm | 336g
  • Abacus
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0349140448
  • 9780349140445
  • 94,454

Review Text

Audacious . . . Immersive . . . A marvel of inventive storytelling Jane Ciabattari BBC
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Review quote

Williams' exceptional debut isn't your traditional seafaring yarn and is all the stronger and more penetrating for it . . . alternately charming, invigorating, and heartbreaking, and always thoughtful and humane. Even readers who don't seek out nautical adventures will find themselves drawn in, especially if they love high-quality literary fiction * Booklist * Literary art of the first order, intelligent and evocative in the way of the best of historical fiction * Kirkus * Williams' multi-voiced approach is the perfect medium to introduce perspectives excluded from the historical record, particularly women and indigenous people - and it is here she creates some of her most compelling characters. -- Danielle Clode * Weekend Australian * In fiction, Williams is able to reinvent this lost diversity of perspectives, albeit with far more gritty realism that might be found in 18th-century versions. Her eclectic and literary approach is personal and psychological rather than philosophical and political. Rather than revealing character through observations or externalities, Williams takes us into the fraught interior world of her characters' psyches, with all their anxieties, fears, prejudices and passions. . . The unreliable and often contradictory voices of the narrative give even implausible scenarios the strangely authentic flavour of rumour and hearsay * The Australian * Sometimes a first novel arrives with an outpouring of excitement and praise. That's the case with Naomi J. Williams's innovative historical novel * The Literary Hub * Every expedition is a drama, in which the souls caught by the war and peace of human curiosities become master storytellers of their own tales and one another's fate. What a joy to see these characters, long-buried by sea or by land, come alive in Landfalls. Naomi J. Williams is an astute observer of both actions and psychologies, and this brilliant book brings us closer to our fellow explorers before our time * Yiyun Li * This suspenseful debut novel tracks the route of the doomed Laperouse expedition..It's a tragic narrative, filled with calamities, yet never somber or dreary. The drama in "Landfalls" is unrelenting: there's petty infighting, rampant egotism, insufferable personalities, drunkenness, heartbreak and rivalries - sort of a maritime version of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills." * New York Times * The craftsmanship is so good, it's hard to believe this is a first novel. That alone makes the book award worthy. On top of the outstanding technical execution, it tells its tale so well that it becomes interesting and emotionally gripping to readers with zero interest in 18th-century maritime history * New York Journal of Books * Ms. Williams brilliantly moves across continents and gives each landfall a distinct and evocative voice...Landfalls is intelligent and utterly human. Ms. Williams has written a seductive page-turner that, although we know the story ends tragically, draws the reader in and doesn't let go. * Wall Street Journal * A dazzling recreation of a real-life 18th century French expedition...How does a 21st-century California author know so persuasively what went on in an 18th-century French maritime captain's mind? Or in the thoughts of a headstrong indigenous Alaskan teenage girl circa 1786? Or in the heart of a young Solomon Islands woman married to a French castaway whose origins she can scarcely understand? Yet somehow, thanks to her meticulous research and prodigious imagination, Williams pulls off one miracle of historic recreation after another...Williams has delivered a bona fide masterpiece * Seattle Times * Broad and bursting with detail * Financial Times * A magnificent reflection of the genuine mystery that surrounded the expedition for centuries, it's one of the most unusual books this year * Manchester Evening News * Keen to avoid the fate of Captain Cook, the technologically advanced ships are filled with the finest scientists, engineers, navigators, artists and chefs, many of whom have their say in this thoroughly engrossing novel. Through these individual reports, a colourful and sometimes tragic picture forms of this extraordinary voyage * Sunday Express * An imaginative, encyclopedically researched and elegantly written experiment in fly-on-the-wall historical reconstruction * Sunday Times * The cast of characters and changes in tone are reminiscent of David Mitchell . . . the story cracks along like a frigate with the wind behind it * Emerald Street * [A] pin-sharp, elegant debut. The book is packed with intricate detail, from the description of a snug cabin to the look of the landscape hidden by fog, and full of adventure and misadventure. But it's really the misinterpretations and misconceptions of the explorers and the people they encounter - often woefully, catastrophically at odds with each other - that give the novel its emotional power * Psychologies, Book of the Month * This remarkably assured first novel offers much more in its careful, oblique approach and with some truly scintillating passages . . . an original and hugely accomplished book -- Harry Ritchie * Daily Mail * Naomi Williams brings it all to life with accomplished, vivid storytelling . . . The tantalising storytelling, solid research, wit and humanity at the heart of this thoroughly engaging book leave you desperate to know more about every single character - as well as many we don't even get to meet properly - for a very long time after the story has ended. It deserves a huge audience * Scotland on Sunday * A beautiful tale of adventure, anchored in tragedy * Vanity Fair * The expedition is told from the viewpoints of the scientists, the seamen, and the natives they encounter. A book as ambitious as the voyage it describes but wildly more successful. * The Times, Historical Fiction Books of the Year 2015 * [An] impressive debut... Williams manages her huge cast with skill, drawing compelling characters from the lists of the lost... unfailingly interesting and intelligent... The best parts, however, are sublime. Williams soars when she has the courage to let go of her prodigious research, and let her characters take flight... Williams's writing is luminous, lit with tenderness, wisdom and a sly humour that glints between the words, even at their darkest. No quantity of painstakingly assembled facts could rival the intensity of her richly imagined reality then, the astonishing vividness and immediacy with which she conjures up the long-forgotten past. * Clare Clark, Guardian * Beautifully written...Clever without being worthy or pretentious, Landfalls is an engrossing read you will want to linger over -- Sara Manning * Red * Audacious . . . Immersive . . . A marvel of inventive storytelling -- Jane Ciabattari * BBC *
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About Naomi J. Williams

Naomi J. Williams was born in Japan and spoke no English until she was nearly six years old. Her short stories have appeared in journals such as A Public Space, One Story, American Short Stories, the Southern Review, and the Gettysburg Review. In 2009, she received a Pushcart Prize. She lives in northern California with her family. Landfalls is her first book.
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Rating details

584 ratings
3.93 out of 5 stars
5 31% (180)
4 41% (241)
3 20% (116)
2 6% (37)
1 2% (10)
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