The Crocodile by the Door by Selina Guinness – shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award – is a remarkable, compelling and moving memoir of a farm, a family and a home.
When Selina Guinness and her partner Colin, both young academics, moved in with Selina’s uncle Charles, an elderly bachelor, they had no idea what the coming years held for them: a crash course in farming, tense discussions with helicopter-borne property developers, human tragedy, and the challenge of dragging a quasi-feudal estate at the edge of Dublin into the twenty-first century.
The Crocodile by the Door – a dazzling debut memoir that will appeal to fans of Edmund de Waal, William Fiennes and Richard Benson’s The Farm – tells this remarkable story.
‘Something close to a small masterpiece … enchanting and hopeful’ Miranda Seymour, Daily Telegraph (five stars)
‘A surprisingly entertaining primer on the travails of farming today,from ungovernable sheep to unfathomable bureaucracy; a fascinatingglimpse of what had become of the Anglo-Irish by the late 20th centuryand into the 21st; an elegant modern pastoral and, at the same time, an astute dismantling of that genre; and a meditation on the meaning oflabour, and on how hard work shapes identity as well as achievement…. A remarkable book’ Belinda McKeon, Guardian
‘Guinness is an astute observer and stylish chronicler of landscape, architecture and human character. … she describes her domestic setbacks and achievements with engaging candour.’ Irish Times
‘A memoir so exceptional that it deserves to be ranked as the Irish Book of the Year’ Irish Independent
‘A very fine writer with a lovely turn of phrase … Stories need adversity and the overcoming of obstacles and The Crocodile by the Door has plenty’ Spectator
‘Astutely chronicling the wider story of Ireland’s downfall through the prism of the farming life, Guinness’s book is the unexpected hit of the year’ Sunday Business Post
‘Beautifully wrought … The book is rich in beautiful imagery … This is the story of bringing a landscape to life, and it is glorious’ Evening Herald