In 2017, Rebecca Schiller turned fantasy to reality and moved her family to a countryside smallholding for a life of sowing and growing. But as the first few years go by, and the ever-expanding list of tasks builds to a cacophony, it becomes clear that this is not going to be simple.
Another January comes in, and with it the threat of a mental health crisis, and so Rebecca turns to the garden where she has made her home, and to the women of this place’s past. Here, she stumbles on a wild space of imaginative leaps, where she begins to uncover the hidden layers of her plot’s history – and of herself.
The ground under Rebecca’s boots offers hard lessons as the seasons shift, delivering unflinching glimpses of damage done to peoples and the planet and regular defeats in her battle with the slugs.
Yet as the New Year returns, carrying a life-changing diagnosis and then a global pandemic, Rebecca begins to move forwards with hope: the small holding has become her anchor, her teacher and her family’s shelter. Because when we find ourselves in an unknown land, we all need something small to hold on to and a way to keep ourselves earthed.
PUBLISHED BY ELLIOT & THOMPSON
I found this to be an utterly absorbing and eye opening memoir that looks at the mental health struggles of the author, Rebecca Schiller, as she shares the highs, and many lows!, of dealing with life and how pinning your hopes on a move to the countryside to solve your problems isn’t always the miracle cure that you may hope it will be!
I think we’ve all seen many mental health insights over the past year or so, where someone has changed their way of life and it was a fix for so much in their lives, whereas Rebecca shows the reality with her brutal honesty of while living in the countryside with your own smallholding has many benefits – check out her instagram page for the cutest goat content!! – the reality of family life and the hard work involved takes its’ toll, especially if you are struggling with your mental health in the first place.
When she and her family moved to Kent in 2017 they were full of high hopes and plans for their new lives, and the author shares her experiences of while she was hoping for a slightly slower pace of life in the country, that didn’t work out as planned and the negatives in life continued to outweigh the positives.
This book goes into detail about the strain her struggles put on her marriage, and while she tried to remain positive for her children, it was they who were the ones to point out the positives in the little things in life that would help her to see the good in each day, even when the world to her seemed very black.
She also throws herself into researching the house they moved in to and the people who have lived there before and that was a great distraction for her, and fascinating to learn about, and also made her look more into herself and try and find out what was causing these dips in her mood and outlook and why she kept struggling. It really does open your eyes to the variety of mental health struggles we all face.
This is a book that deals in reality and the honesty in her writing and experiences really does shine through. It was enlightening to read a book where her life didn’t change overnight because she moved to the country, but it made her realise that she couldn’t paper over the cracks anymore and needed to be more pro-active in her search to be happier and find a way to keep living with a more balanced outlook.
My thanks to Emma Finnigan for the advanced reader copy in return for a fair and honest review.