Hitting Hard: “The Siege of Trencher’s Farm” (A Book Review)

The Siege of Trencher’s Farm, a 1969 novel by Gordon M. Williams, is about the cold and violent impulses of the plebes in rural England.  It inspired the making of the Peckinpah film, Straw Dogs, a good picture but not very faithful to Williams’s novel.  As in the film, even so, an American man married to an English wife is forced to violate his humanitarian conscience when some Brit bullies besiege his home.  They demand that the “Yank” turn over to them a man even more morally repulsive—he murders little girls—than they are.  But the man is puny and not in his right mind, and George, the Yank, refuses to yield to the chaps, whose scorn is decidedly for a child-killer and an American.

The novel is also about what being a man means apropos of having a wife—specifically, a very flawed one.

Close to being a mere potboiler, Siege is nevertheless splendidly exciting and sharply uncompromising.  With its palatable plot, it itself would make a good movie.

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