Blog Tour: Limberlost – Robbie Arnott [Dylan Thomas Prize – Longlist]

Blog Tour: Limberlost – Robbie Arnott [Dylan Thomas Prize – Longlist] @dylanthomprize @midascampaigns @emily_laidlaw #SUDTP23


Author(s): Robbie Arnott (author), Helen Crawford-White (cover illustrator)
Publisher: Atlantic Books
Publication date: November 2022


To Ned, a boat means freedom – the fresh open water, squid-rich reefs, fires on private beaches – a far cry from life on Limberlost, the family farm, where his father worries and grieves for Ned’s older brothers.

They’re away fighting in a ruthless and distant war, becoming men on the battlefield, while Ned – too young to enlist – roams the land in search of rabbits to shoot, selling their pelts to fund his secret boat ambitions.

But as the seasons pass and Ned grows up, real life gets in the way.

Ned falls for Callie, the tough, capable sister of his best friend, and together they learn the lessons of love, loss, and hardship.

When a storm decimates the Limberlost crop and shakes the orchard’s future, Ned must decide what to protect: his childhood dreams, or the people and the land that surround him…

At turns tender and vicious, Limberlost is a tale of the masculinities we inherit, the limits of ownership and understanding, and the teeming, vibrant wonders of growing up.

Told in spellbinding, folkloric spirit, this is an unforgettable love letter to the richness of the natural world from a writer of rare talent.


Remember how, back in January, I said I wouldn’t take anymore proofs or participate in any blog tours in 2023? This is how long I lasted.

When Emily at Midas PR contacted me about the Dylan Thomas Prize longlist and I saw Robbie Arnott was on the list, I immediately caved in. I absolutely love Robbie’s writing, having previously fallen in love with The Rain Heron. When setting out to read Limberlost, I wanted more of Robbie’s vivid, engrossing imagery but I also wanted something completely different; and that’s what I got.

Limberlost focuses on Ned, and alternates between his youth and adulthood. In his youth, Ned is the youngest male in the family, left at home with his father and sister whilst his older brothers are away at war. In adulthood, he is a husband and father, striving to keep his family fed and sheltered.

There is much to be said about Limberlost but I was completely taken in by Ned’s relationships with others around him. He is detached from his family and friends but understands them so well. He knows what motivates them, he senses their moods, and predicts their behaviour in a way that suggests that he probably knows them better than they know themselves.

I loved Ned’s relatability. It feels like he’s constantly waiting to grow up, become an adult; even in his older years where he has lived his life. I am sure most of us often feel that way, like we’re playing at being adults and are waiting for that switch to be flipped where we leave our childhood dreams behind and become An Adult.

“Ned was thirty. When would the natural competence of other men come to him?”

It’s hard to describe the beautiful, lyrical nature of Robbie’s writing. It was easy to sink into Limberlost only to emerge and find an hour, two hours, had passed. And yet Limberlost seems suspended in time. There’s no real indication of what year it is; you could possibly narrow it down but it’s a world all of its own.

The shortlist for the Dylan Thomas Prize will be announced on 23rd March 2023. I sincerely hope Limberlost has a well-deserved place on that list.

Thanks to Atlantic Books and Midas PR for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Wishing you a wonderfully bookish week,


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