Under The Harrow: A Novel by Flynn BerryUnder The Harrow: A Novel by Flynn Berry

Under The Harrow: A Novel

byFlynn Berry

Paperback | June 14, 2016

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"A thriller for fans of The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl...[with] a striking, original voice all Berry’s own.” —The New York Times Book Review

Winner of the 2017 Edgar Award for Best First Novel
Named one of the "10 Best Mystery Books and Thrillers of the Year" by The Washington Post 
Named one of the best books of the year by The Atlantic 

The award-winning psychological thriller about a young woman who finds her sister brutally murdered, and the shocking incident in their past that may hold the key to finding the killer, from the author of A Double Life

When Nora takes the train from London to visit her sister in the countryside, she expects to find her waiting at the station, or at home cooking dinner. But when she walks into Rachel’s familiar house, what she finds is entirely different: her sister has been the victim of a brutal murder.
Stunned and adrift, Nora finds she can’t return to her former life. An unsolved assault in the past has shaken her faith in the police, and she can’t trust them to find her sister’s killer. Haunted by the murder and the secrets that surround it, Nora is under the harrow: distressed and in danger. As Nora’s fear turns to obsession, she becomes as unrecognizable as the sister her investigation uncovers. 

A riveting psychological thriller and a haunting exploration of the fierce love between two sisters, the distortions of grief, and the terrifying power of the past, Under the Harrow marks the debut of an extraordinary new writer.
Flynn Berry is a graduate of the Michener Center for Writers and has been awarded a Yaddo residency. Under the Harrow is her first novel.
Title:Under The Harrow: A NovelFormat:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 7.75 × 5.04 × 0.59 inPublished:June 14, 2016Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0143108573

ISBN - 13:9780143108573


Rated 4 out of 5 by from Well played! I did expect this to be easy to figure out, as most thrillers tend to be for me. I figured it would be a typical paint-by-numbers, but I was pleasantly surprised! This follows Nora and the weeks after she finds her sister, Rachel, murdered in her home in the countryside. Rachel, who has a history of violence after being attacked as a teenager, is not short of enemies: she is no stranger to affairs with married men, or men in relationships and overall, neither Nora nor Rachel is actually terribly likeable. There are some redeeming qualities but otherwise, I found it hard to warm up to either of them. What works for this story is Nora is not such a reliable narrator. I really thought I had it figured out a few times, who did it, but I would waffle and flip-flop as much as the story itself. When the killer is revealed in the final pages I found it to be wholly satisfying--completely worked, made sense, and wrapped the whole thing up nicely. I sped through this book to get to the end. It's a little creepy, too. Highly recommend!
Date published: 2017-10-08
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Meh I dont get the hype. Main character was hard to relate to and the weiting style was too hard to follow
Date published: 2017-04-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An exceptional debut thriller. Highly recommended! An outstanding debut thriller, "Under the harrow" is a 'harrowing', disturbing, yet compelling read with a twist that is more like a hairpin curve. Nora Lawrence is a writer whose day job is working for a landscape designer. We first meet Nora, our protagonist/narrator, when she leaves London by train to visit her sister Rachel. Rachel , a nurse, lives in an old farmhouse outside of Oxford. Rachel's job seemed to be stressing her out more than usual of late so Nora intends to cheer her up with a bottle of wine and a weekend of long heart-to-heart chats. What she finds when she arrives at her sister's farmhouse forever changes her life. Nora is demented with grief. Her grief and anguish is palpable. She is stunned with shock. She thinks of things she wants to tell Rachel and is in denial of her death. She cannot believe that Rachel will never again listen to her favorite music, watch a film, eat her favorite foods, etc. She cannot believe that her life can go on without her sister, best-friend, and favorite person, Rachel. She cannot fathom a future without Rachel in it. Nora begins to feel survivor's guilt. She is now quite alone in the world. When just a teenager, Rachel was viciously attacked. Could her murderer be the same man? For years afterward, both sisters actively sought to find this man who had escaped justice. The police investigation into Rachel's murder is headed by D.I. Moretti from the Thames Valley Police station in Abingdon. He conducts a thorough investigation, but with little result. His DS Lewis becomes over-friendly with Nora... Then, she finds that her sister has kept things from her. For instance, they both loved Cornwall and had spent a delightful time there the previous summer. It seems as though Rachel had planned to move to Cornwall and had already rented a flat there... and without telling Nora! The reader becomes uneasy... The writing is equally riveting and beautiful. It carries the reader along with its perfect descriptive phrases and emotional torment. It contains vivid depictions of raw and tortuous grief whilst at the same time causing an overwhelming feeling of foreboding in the reader. Is Nora who we understand her to be? She seems to be developing a side to her personality that unsettles the reader enough for them to think badly of her... Could Nora be psychotic? Or has Rachel's murder caused her to become unhinged? This debut is nothing short of exceptional. I loved every moment of reading it and found myself reading when I should have been doing other things. If I can think of one tiny flaw, it would be that the ending seemed a tad rushed. That being said, the ending was very satisfactory and tied up the narrative well. "Under the harrow" will be near the TOP of my best of 2016 list. I can't recommend it highly enough!
Date published: 2016-09-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Strong debut Under the Harrow is Flynn Berry's debut novel. Nora is traveling to her sister's home for the weekend. She's a bit late, but when she arrives Rachel isn't there to meet the train. Nora instead walks to the house where she finds Rachel and her dog - brutally murdered. Rachel was attacked as a teenager and the crime was never solved. Since then, she and Nora have always combed the crime reports, attended trials and more in an attempt to find the man who assaulted Rachel. Could he have found her after all this time? Is it someone in the village? A lover? A jealous wife? A stranger? "Rachel said there was something wrong with the town, only a few weeks ago" The search for answers consumes Nora - she stays in the village, unable to return to her own life. She becomes obsessed, certain she can find the killer as she feels the police aren't making any headway. Under the Harrow is of course a mystery - there are many suspects offered up. And I liked that I was kept guessing until the very last pages. But Under the Harrow is also an exploration of the relationship between the two sisters. How well do we really know those we love? How well do we know ourselves? What does such a calamitous event do to a person's psyche? For me, this was the strongest part of the book. Berry puts us in Nora's head - her staccato thoughts, memories, hazy recollections and fractured thinking is mirrored in her dialogue and actions. The reader is kept off kilter, trying to keep up with Nora's galloping 'stream of consciousness' thoughts. And I began to question Nora's memories. Are they true or her remembered truths? The title? It's a C.S. Lewis quote from A Grief Observed: "Come, what do we gain by evasions? We are under the harrow and can't escape." This was a strong debut and an author I would pick up again.
Date published: 2016-06-20

Editorial Reviews

“A thrilling novel of psychological suspense…Under the Harrow contains similarities [to The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl] that will undoubtedly attract readers – but underneath its hard-driving, page-turning, compulsively readable narrative is a striking, original voice all Berry’s own…[Her] precise sentences call to mind Hitchcock’s meticulous storyboards and enrich the work with a cinematic scope.” —Elizabeth Brundage, The New York Times Book Review (Editors' Choice) "Exquisitely taut and intense. . . There’s a subtle strain of Daphne Du Maurier’s classic, Rebecca, in Under the Harrow. . . . [But] Under the Harrow is such a superbly crafted psychological thriller, it deserves to be celebrated for its own singular excellence." —Maureen Corrigan, The Washington Post"A brisk and chilling psychological study about grief, paranoia, and memory; a smart portrait of a complex sibling relationship; and, more than anything, an effective murder mystery...Berry takes some of the big social struggles that have animated the feminist movement and makes them specific and personal, exploring the rippling effects of power imbalances across individual lives. There’s nothing pedantic about the taut, tricky narrative, though. Like solving the whodunit, finding the bigger meaning is simply a matter of paying attention." —The Atlantic, "The Best Books We Read in 2016"“Flynn Berry is engaged here with the linked subjects of women, violence, and memory, in a fashion reminiscent of A.S.A. Harrison or Paula Hawkins...A slender tale full of polished, watchful prose, with an interesting kind of icy desperation in its bones.” —USA Today"Surprise-filled . . . [Flynn Berry] has written a psychological-suspense work fit to hold its own with many recent best-sellers. And she’s done it with a narrator whose possible unreliability is not arbitrary but consistent with this well-wrought book’s conception, thereby heightening the considerable suspense." —The Wall Street Journal“Flynn Berry's debut novel imbues the classic murder mystery with rich emotional depth, describing Nora's anguish and grief so acutely that the reader feels the emotional impact of her loss as deeply as the desire to know who did it. The result is an investigation not just of the crime but also of the fierce, complicated love that exists between sisters.” —Oprah.com, "Page-Turners You'll Devour in One Sitting""Mesmerizing." —The Minneapolis Star Tribune“In prose that is economical but perfectly judged, Berry transfixes the reader . . . Rarely has the device of the unreliable narrator been used so effectively.” —The Guardian"The thriller of the summer." —Bustle "Wickedly chilling . . . As Nora's behavior turns increasingly erratic and bizarre, she is both repellent and compelling, fascinating precisely because she is becoming so creepily unhinged. Gripping, right on through to the surprising conclusion." —The Cleveland Plain Dealer"Psychologically intense and darkly atmospheric . . . [It] reminded me of Patricia Highsmith in its vivid style and toxic substance." —Carole E. Barrowman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel"A startling whodunnit...haunting, atmospheric, and so very clever." —Dayton Daily News, "Favorite Fiction Titles From 2016""[A] skillfull, page-turning debut . . . Flynn Berry keeps you guessing up until the very end." —Real Simple"[Under the Harrow] envelops you in its suspenseful plot from the first page. . . . It’s not solely a plot-fueled thriller, though: Berry’s sentences are spare and biting." —The Huffington Post"A gripping and thoroughly detailed exploration into grief, manipulation, and jealously. . . . The most gripping aspect isn’t the typical whodunit chase; it’s the ways in which Nora’s simultaneous senses of loss, envy, disloyalty, and fixation make her as much a victim as a villain. If Berry can craft something this masterful right out of the gate, imagine what she’ll do next time." —PopMatters"[A] literary take on the psychological thriller." —Elle"Psychologically intense and thrillingly page-turning . . . Vividly drawn characters and relatably complex relationships make it all the more scary as you wonder if it could happen to you." —PureWow"This can’t-put-it-down psychological thriller delves into the tenuous relationship between two women who loved each other fiercely, while also lifting the veil on how little we often know about the people we consider closest to us." —Refinery29"This is the sort of book you will likely plow through during a single session at the beach. . . . It’s deftly told, quirky, and full of small surprises." —Goop.com"A twisty psychological thriller." —The Fort Worth Star-Telegram"If you're a suspense lover who's looking to fill that Gillian Flynn-size void on the nightstand, Flynn Berry's debut novel, Under the Harrow, should do the trick." —Phoenix New Times"Under the Harrow is an absorbing psychological thriller that penetrates the intricacies of grief, from the anguish of death to an arguable return to normality for the survivors. More noteworthy than the tautly woven plot, though, is Berry’s captivating prose, which forces readers to question, with Nora, how well we can ever know our loved ones and, in turn, ourselves." —The Strand"Magnificent. Flynn Berry is one heck of a story teller." —WYSO Miami"Hitchcockian . . . A moody psychological thriller that explores sisterhood’s complex mix of love and resentment." —Booklist"A stunningly complex novel of psychological suspense, exploring the bonds of sisterly love and rivalry through the lens of two brutal acts of violence—introducing an exciting new voice to the genre." —Shelf Awareness"[A] keenly wrought debut . . . Berry accomplishes the rare feat of making the victim come alive on the page without ever sacrificing the deep, all-encompassing loss felt by those left behind." —Kirkus Reviews"Obsession and memory, rage and regret, power this atmospheric psychological suspense debut." —Library Journal"A page-turner . . . that will have readers yearning to see what the mind of Flynn Berry has up next." —Suspense Magazine"Berry’s cool voice and the world it invokes are the stuff of classic crime fiction, but this is deeper than a caper—it is the story of a woman working through her stages of grief." —RT Book Reviews“Once I started reading Under the Harrow, I couldn’t stop. It’s like Broadchurch written by Elena Ferrante. I’ve been telling all my friends to read it—the highest compliment. Flynn Berry is a deeply interesting writer.” —Claire Messud, author of The Emperor's Children and The Woman Upstairs “I read Under the Harrow through the night—I couldn’t put it down. Berry’s deft touch with atmosphere and emotion are sure to make this a stand out.” —Alex Marwood, author of The Wicked Girls and The Killer Next Door   “What grabbed me by the bones and hurled me through this read-in-one-sitting novel wasn’t the plot, as compelling and tenacious and suspenseful as it is. Rather, it was Flynn Berry’s perfect, unrelenting prose. This is flawless storytelling.” —Jill Alexander Essbaum, author of Hausfrau   “Under the Harrow is a compulsively readable and atmospheric novel that I consumed almost in one sitting. The portrayal of the two sisters is subtle, original and compelling.” —Rosamund Lupton, author of Sister  “A nail-biter that fans of Gone Girl and Girl on the Train will no doubt love, Under the Harrow is swiftly carried along by a momentum of unraveling certainties that ramp up with every page, building to the end’s thrilling crescendo. I loved this dark, chilling book and couldn't put it down.” —Suzanne Rindell, author of The Other Typist “Flynn Berry’s writing is clear and spare yet textured and instantly immersive. You know from the get go that something is not quite right, and this sense of unease and mystery grows and grows as you discover more about Nora’s complex relationship with her sister. I read Under the Harrow very quickly and when I wasn’t reading it I was thinking about it.” —Harriet Lane, author of Her “Under the Harrow offers exactly the kind of voracious, absorbing, one-sitting read that readers love. Taut with suspense, it is full of insight and suffused with emotions that will move you. The central relationship between two adult sisters is a heartbreaker, the tenderness, the loyalty, and the sorrow all ringing so true.” —Robin Black, author of Life Drawing  “Under the Harrow airdrops the reader into the unsettling aftermath of trauma, where shifting memories collide with obsession in a propulsive story of love, grief, and murder. Gripping and nuanced, this stylish thriller is not to be missed.” —Koethi Zan, author of The Never List