"'The Barrowfields,' with its almost Victorian title, offers in its own ways the pleasures of older novels, with their coziness and sweep, and their tacit belief that family is destiny. The prose has the beautiful attention to detail that embeds us in place. . . . 'The Barrowfields' is a work of abundant talent."—New York Times Book Review
"In this charming, absorbing, and assured debut novel, a young man tries to make sense of his father’s life and the passions that unite them—namely, a devotion to literature and a rueful nostalgia for their Appalachian homeland. . . . Lewis evokes his settings beautifully, and his prose is bracingly erudite. This debut has the ability to fully immerse its readers." —Publishers Weekly
“A novel this good is a rare thing. Elegiac and timeless, THE BARROWFIELDS is an unforgettable evocation of a dark American saga. Reading it is like cracking open the tattered first edition of a classic you somehow missed but just pulled from your father’s bookshelf.” —David Gilbert, National Bestselling author of & Sons
“Majestic and rich with the textures of life, Phillip Lewis’s THE BARROWFIELDS is one of the great discoveries of the year. This is a debut so assured in its sense of place and history that it will leave you in awe of what Lewis has accomplished here: a sorrowful, beautiful ode to the bond of family, the ghosts that haunt us, and the stories that shape us.” —Paul Yoon, author of SNOW HUNTERS
“THE BARROWFIELDS knows that the worst hauntings happen not in old houses but in troubled minds. The psychological landscape is craggy in this vivid update on Southern Gothic steeped in gorgeous vernacular and full of characters ready to walk off the page. Lewis goes down to the depths and back up in this powerfully hopeful book, and the reader is helpless in his hands.” —Matthew Thomas, New York Times bestselling author of WE ARE NOT OURSELVES
“Beautifully written and deeply moving, THE BARROWFIELDS is a novel that centers on a man conflicted between his love of family and his devotion to literature. Phillip Lewis is a very talented writer, and his debut deserves a wide and appreciative readership.” —Ron Rash, New York Times bestselling author of SERENA and ABOVE THE WATERFALL
“A beautiful, evocative novel with an amazing sense of place and an understated, dark sensibility. A brilliant debut.”—Jenni Fagan, author of THE SUNLIGHT PILGRIMS and THE PANOPTICON
"Set in the fictional North Carolina mountain town of Old Buckram, THE BARROWFIELDS is a stunning debut novel rich in character and place, steeped in literature and music, and fraught with family drama. . . . With clear echoes of Poe and Wolfe, THE BARROWFIELDS also gives a nod to Richard Russo by reflecting an appreciation for the eccentricities of regional characters. . . . Lewis has put Old Buckram firmly on the map."—Shelf-Awareness
"A heartbreaking love letter to literature, loss and life changing choices, The Barrowfields by Phillip Lewis is an absolutely gorgeous debut novel. . . . The most striking part of the novel is its deep authenticity. It's rare to pick up a piece of modern realist literature that feels like it is surrounding you. It was nearly impossible to separate my reality from the reality of the book, and that is important in regards to its themes and messages. The portrayal of the hope and courage we are forced to adopt in the face of grief and sorrow is incredibly genuine. It's refreshing to read something that has such a strong sense of truth."—The Michigan Daily
"Like fellow North Carolinian Thomas Wolfe, Lewis tackles the conflicting choice between accepting one's roots and rejecting the past, and he does so with grace, wit, and an observant eye."—Booklist
What Readers Are Saying
Enchanted Prose Review of The Barrowfields: "For a blog that prizes prose above all, The Barrowfields is a stunner. It wins for beautiful, atmospheric, sorrowful prose. A blend of formal, literary/poetic, Appalachian dialect, conversational, and a bit of legalese. Versatile prose that rhythmically evokes 'eloquent sadness' set in a beautiful, forlorn place with a heavyhearted clan."
Dandelions Inspired Review of The Barrowfields: "Phillip Lewis has created one of the most outstanding pieces of literature I’ve read . . . . His writing is beautiful, heartbreaking, honest, intellectual, and completely consuming. This is the type of author that I would love to sit around with a bottle of wine and pick his brain, and try to gain at least an ounce of wisdom regarding his command of the written word. I recommend plenty of books but this is one that I insist you all must read."
Blogging for Books Review of The Barrowfields: "Phillip Lewis's first novel The Barrowfields is so beautifully written, so evocative, that I can arbitrarily open the book to a random scene and be transported."
The Literate Quilter Review of The Barrowfields: "Phillip Lewis's debut novel The Barrowfields is a remarkable story, beautifully written and wise. Henry's journey resonates with self-recognition and affirms that going home can open the path to the future. The language is lush with a penchant for rarefied words, a nod to Thomas Wolfe's poetic and verbose style, and the novel is imbued with vivid descriptions and cinematic scenes. . . . Our past leaves its scars and questions, and painful as it is, we become free by confronting it. Lewis has written a story that hearkens back to the great literature of the past while offering insight into the universal human condition."
Bookworming Tonight Review of The Barrowfields: "This book. This book. This book. I can’t even put it in a category other than to say it is beyond extraordinary. The writing, the characters, the story. It is resplendent. It’s the book that you have been waiting for. Get this. It is the author Phillip Lewis’s debut novel. I am already chomping at the bit for his next work of art. The book is The Barrowfields. . . . Make room on your bookshelf for this literary masterpiece."
The Worm Hole Review of The Barrowfields: "The Barrowfields is a magnificent work that reads like a great work of American literature. Lewis’s writing style is subtle, beautiful, and the book feels as though it is from another time. . . . This is a book about books. About books and literary studies and grammar and the classics, even book banning and burning. The Barrowfields is soaked in references to classic works of many genres and eras – literature is what father and son bond over, what son and daughter fill their time with, and what Henry often discusses with his friends. Harper Lee. Faulkner. Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe. Marion Zimmer Bradley. References are sometimes blunt (a character asks someone if their situation isn’t straight out of To Kill A Mockingbird), others are woven into the text in such a way that the book seems at its heart a love letter to literature. Many references are made to Southern literature, matching Lewis’s setting of North Carolina. It is difficult to explain just how satisfying this novel is; it goes above and beyond many others. . . . It's just glorious."