Cover image for The grass memorial
The grass memorial
Harrison, Sarah, 1946-
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Thomas Dunne Books, 2002.
Physical Description:
599 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



In the tradition of her epic masterpieces such as The Flowers of the Field , Sarah Harrison returns to the high quality storytelling that readers have come to love and cherish in The Grass Memorial , a sweeping novel that seamlessly weaves together three compelling stories that cover continents and spans generations.The leaping chalk horse, carved into an English hillside in the Bronze Age, stands witness to centuries of human endeavor. For Stella, raw from the hurt of a long-standing love affair with a married man, it represents home-sanctuary from the adrenaline-fueled highs and corresponding lows of her career as a singer. Stella is tough, talented, spiky, and funny; adored by every man in every audience but a loser in love.Writer Spencer McColl is a veteran of World War II, an American ex-fighter pilot with bittersweet memories of his glory days in the village of Church Norton, and of one girl in particular. Now in his seventies, he's making a last sentimental journey from Wyoming to the England of his mother's childhood, and the white horse, to pay tribute to his past.The Latimer family estate of Bells, in the shadow of the white horse, represents the best of the Victorian values, but is touched by tragedy. When younger son Harry Latimer sets off to the Crimea as a captain in the Hussars, he does so with a heart burdened by his undeclared love for his sister-in-law, Rachel. The terrible reality of the battlefield, where mismanagement and disease prove as deadly as the enemy, provides a bitter contrast to Harry's memories of the tranquility of his rural home.Stella, Spencer, Harry-each marches to the tune of a different drum, but all three march with stout hearts and heads held high, to meet life face on. The Grass Memorial is an absorbing exploration of the two great preoccupations of the human condition: love and war.

Author Notes

Sarah Harrison has written children's books, short stories, articles, and scripts as well as many British bestselling novels. She lives in Cambridgeshire.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

The latest doorstop from Harrison (The Flowers of the Field) is a triptych, the individual stories linked to a millennia-old chalk horse outlined on a grassy hill on an English country estate. First in the trio of protagonists is cavalry officer Harry Latimer, who falls in love with his brother's wife before heading off to war in the Crimea in the 1850s. Then we have Spencer McColl, an American from Wyoming, whose service during WWII takes him to England, where he meets a woman he never forgets, causing him to return decades later. Finally, in the 1990s, there's Stella Carlyle, a singer struggling with both her career and her long-running relationship with a married man. Usually a crowd-pleaser, Harrison wallows in some extreme sentimentality here, her story replete with questionable platitudes ("Never wish for freedom.... You might get it") and garden-variety wisdom delivered in self-important tones ("love's such a hard taskmaster"). There's also a lot of narrative space devoted to horses in general and the mythic horse in particular. Because the three stories are linked solely by the conceit of the horse, readers may wonder if these are really just three separate tales that couldn't stand on their own, cobbled together to make one seemingly complete and overlong effort. Those who pick this up believing it is a family saga will be gravely disappointed; Harrison's faithful fans may be more forgiving and hope for greener pastures next time out. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Hussar captain Harry Latimer is sent to the brutal Crimean front, leaving behind his family's Wiltshire estate and the widowed sister-in-law he loves. Spencer McColl, an American fighter pilot from Wyoming, is sent to England during World War II and has an affair with an English widow, though he's really in love with her blossoming young daughter. Stella Carlyle, an edgy, talented rock star who works too hard and plays even harder, is in love with a married doctor, and their longstanding affair is showing signs of wear when she suddenly becomes pregnant. Three central characters, three loves, and three seemingly unrelated stories set far apart in time play themselves out until Harrison (That Was Then) slowly reveals the links that draw the characters together over the centuries. Her cinematic story has it all: history, war, passion, love, and heartbreaking loss. For readers who love sinking their teeth into sweeping sagas, this latest offering from popular British novelist Harrison is just the thing. A deft weaving of time, place, history, and powerful emotion, this makes perfect vacation reading for avid Anglophiles. Recommended for all fiction collections. Susan Clifford Braun, Aerospace Corp., El Segundo, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.