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About The Book

This “story of passion, possession, and a painful education in love” (Sarah Dunant, author of In the Name of the Family), spanning several decades in 17th-century Great Britain and America, evocatively explores the power of nature versus man and man versus woman by “a lovely writer [who] can take your breath away” (The New York Times Book Review).

I am an engineer and a measured man of the world. I prefer to weigh everything in the balance, to calculate and to plan. Yet my own heart is going faster than I can now count.

In 1649, Jan Brunt arrives in Great Britain from the Netherlands to work on draining and developing an expanse of marshy wetlands known as the Great Level. It is here in this wild country that he meets Eliza, a local woman whose love overturns his ordered vision. Determined to help her strive beyond her situation, Jan is heedless of her devotion to her home and way of life. When she uses the education Jan has given her to sabotage his work, Eliza is brutally punished, and Jan flees to the New World.

In the American colonies, profiteers are hungry for viable land to develop, and Jan’s skills as an engineer are highly prized. His prosperous new life is rattled, however, on a spring morning when a boy delivers a note that prompts him to remember the Great Level, and confront all that was lost there. Eliza has made it to the New World and is once again using the education Jan gave her to bend the landscape—this time to find her own place of freedom.

Perfect for fans of Hilary Mantel and Geraldine Brooks, Call Upon the Water is “a haunting book with characters who stay with the reader as their lives unfold like a sea mist” (Philippa Gregory, New York Times bestselling author).

Note: This book was published in the UK under the title The Great Level.

About The Author

Photograph by Armin Wiesheit

Stella Tillyard is a British novelist and historian. She was educated at Oxford and Harvard Universities and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Her bestselling book Aristocrats was made into a miniseries for BBC1/Masterpiece Theatre, and sold to over twenty countries. Winner of the Meilleur Livre Etranger, the Longman-History Today Prize, and the Fawcett Prize, Tillyard has taught at Harvard University, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Centre for Editing Lives and Letters at Queen Mary, London. She is currently a Visiting Professor in the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology at Birkbeck, University of London. Her latest novel is Call Upon the Water (published in the UK under the title The Great Level).

Why We Love It

“An unusual love story that spans decades in 17th century England, Manhattan, and Virginia…This is a book about men and women and man vs. nature. It’s psychologically complex and fascinating from a historical perspective.” —Trish T., VP, Executive Editor, on Call Upon the Water

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria Books (September 17, 2019)
  • Length: 288 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781982121013

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Tillyard is a lovely writer....she can take your breath away."

– The New York Times Book Review

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