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.
The Crocodile By The Door was published by Penguin in September 2012 and has been shortlisted for Best Biography in the Costa Book Awards and the Newcomer of the Year in the Irish Book Awards. It is a remarkable, compelling and moving memoir of a farm, a family and a home.
Selina Guinness lives in the Dublin mountains with her husband, their children, and a lot of sheep. The Crocodile By The Door is her first book.
‘Guinness’s first book, while rich in charm, is also poised, moving and – by the end of a heart-wrenching journey – surprisingly triumphant … the author turns the story into something close to a small masterpiece’ – The Telegraph
‘A memoir so exceptional that it deserves to be ranked as the Irish Book of the Year, regardless of category … a multi-layered story that is breathtaking in its scope …This book has more to say about what the crash has done to us than all the economists put together, and the story told here with such empathy is the story of the country in miniature. As if all that were not enough, it is also beautifully written, with prose that is at times poetic or pastoral and at other times shocking with candid observation.’ – Irish Independent
‘Guinness has a poet’s eye for detail, from the beautiful to the banal … The Crocodile By The Door shortlisted for the 2012 Costa biography award, is an appealing book for several reasons. It is a surprisingly entertaining primer on the travails of farming today, from ungovernable sheep to unfathomable bureaucracy; a fascinating glimpse of what had become of the Anglo-Irish by the late 20th century and into the 21st; an elegant modern pastoral and, at the same time, an astute dismantling of that genre; and a meditation on the meaning of labour, and on how hard work shapes identity as well as achievement … Out of the complexities of attachment, and out of a knowledge, hard-won, of what true dereliction is, Guinness has written a remarkable book.’ – The Guardian
‘Strikingly beautiful language, without milking emotion … told with dazzling honesty and self-scrutiny’ – The Irish Times
‘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
‘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
Agent Name: Sam Copeland